The incendiary saga of Art Briles took another twist on Friday when a carefully worded letter from Baylor University was made public, a letter the 61-year-old football coach used to find work after a series of alleged sexual assaults and rapes involving football players rocked the Texas university.
Briles, who was hired then dismissed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Monday, was provided with a letter from Baylor's legal counsel that was used in Briles's search for a new job. Media reports have stated the Ticats were shown the letter when they chose to hire Briles as an assistant offensive coach.
It is believed the letter played a significant role in the Ticats' decision making. And yet, when the public and media firestorm over Briles's hiring helped force the CFL team to reverse its decision, the Baylor letter was never mentioned, either by owner Bob Young or Ticats' president and chief executive Scott Mitchell.
Both men apologized profusely for hiring Briles, given the CFL's social programs for diversity and its opposition to violence against women.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram published the letter on Friday. It was dated May 23, 2017, which was months after Briles had negotiated a settlement that included him dropping his libel lawsuit against Baylor.
In response to a letter Briles sent to Baylor on March 1, 2017, Christopher Holmes, general counsel for the school, replied to "Coach Briles," wishing him well in his future endeavours. The final paragraph of the letter expresses that Baylor is "unaware" of misconduct by Briles in three different scenarios.
"In particular, at this time we are unaware of any situation where you personally had contact with anyone who directly reported to you being the victim of sexual assault or that you directly discouraged the victim of an alleged sexual assault from reporting to law enforcement or University officials. Nor are we aware of any situation where you played a student athlete who had been found responsible for sexual assault."
Briles was fired from the school in May, 2016, following a sexual-abuse scandal that engulfed the university's football program, where he was head coach from 2008-15.
The two sides later reached a financial settlement, according to reports. Terms of that settlement have not been released.
Last year, an investigation by the law firm Pepper Hamilton found "specific failings within both the football program and Athletics Department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player, to take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, and to take action in response to a report of dating violence," according to a finding of facts published by the school's board of regents.
Requests for comment from a spokesperson at Baylor were not returned late Friday evening. The Ticats were also contacted for comment but had yet to respond by deadline.
Hamilton head coach June Jones, a former head coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, had hoped to work with Briles.
The two have been friends for 40 years and the Ticats, winless in eight games, were keen to tap into Briles's football expertise.