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Baylor Fires University President, Football Coach Over Sexual Assault Scandal

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Baylor University has announced Kenneth Starr will be stripped of his title as university president, and its head football coach, Art Briles, will be fired. You may remember Starr as the independent counsel appointed to investigate then-President Clinton for an Arkansas real estate deal. Starr broadened the investigation to include Clinton's sexual behavior and alleged perjury. Ultimately, the president was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, Starr ultimately wound up at Baylor University, and now there is a blistering report. It accuses Baylor and its athletic department of incubating a culture that was hostile to women who had been sexually assaulted by the team's football players. And this has resulted in Starr's demotion. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Pursuit of Division I football success has tarnished the reputation of many a fine university lately, from Penn State to the University of North Carolina and now the nation's largest Baptist university. By their actions and remarks, the Baylor Board of Regents appeared to recognize the magnitude of the damage.

We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence in our campus, said Richard Willis, chairman of the board. Describing the extent of the coverups and the retaliation against the student victims of sexual assault, Willis added, the depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Three Baylor football players and a fraternity president have been charged with sexual assault in the last two years. An ESPN "Outside The Lines" report implicated two other players who were never charged.

JOHN CLUNE: The sheer numbers of sexual assaults that were coming out of Baylor football program was unusual in this case.

GOODWYN: John Clune is a lawyer who represents two of the Baylor student victims.

CLUNE: There's a culture of consistent sexual violence from the football players and people at the university and within the program that knew about it and didn't do anything about it.

GOODWYN: The investigation and report by a Philadelphia law firm did not detail exactly how many women had been assaulted but implied there were many from 2012 through 2015. It disclosed the vast majority of cases didn't even get a hearing. Jon Krakauer wrote a book about the culture of sexual assault at the University of Montana.

JON KRAKAUER: People don't want to believe this problem exists. You know, the studies repeatedly show that on college campuses, about 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted. And that - those studies are assailed by men's rights groups, by, you know, athletic boosters. But it's still the case that victims have to prove their innocence. The victims are assumed to be lying.

GOODWYN: Baylor has notified the NCAA of possible rules violations as a consequence of its obstructing conduct in the sexual assault cases involving the university's football players. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.