(NEW YORK) — Former Baylor University President Kenneth Starr is stepping down from the chancellor role he was demoted to last week amid criticisms of the way the school has handled accusations of sexual assault by football players, he told ESPN’s Joe Schad.
Starr will continue to teach at Baylor Law School, he said on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” His duties as chancellor would have included overseeing external fundraising and religious liberty, ESPN reported. He was to have no operational duties at the university.
Starr said he announced his resignation “with sorrow” this morning and that he hopes the university will “move forward with full transparency,” according to ESPN.
“We need to put this horrible situation behind us,” Starr said. “We need to heal Baylor.”
Starr said he “accepts responsibility” for the scandal but contends that he “didn’t know about what was happening.”
“The captain goes down with the ship,” he said, calling the students and student athletes at Baylor “wonderful.”
Starr said that to his knowledge, sexual assault was not an issue at Baylor until August, when a member of the football team was being tried for sexual assault. He contends that students on campus were safe and that the “episodes” he was “aware of” happened off campus, according to ESPN.
But, ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne found that 12 sexual assault cases were handled by campus police since 2012, citing police reports.
Last week, Baylor Head Football Coach Art Briles was suspended with intent to terminate, the school said in a release. Athletic Director Ian McCaw was also sanctioned and placed on probation.
Starr is best known as the special prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He and Briles have faced sharp criticism about whether the school ignored allegations of assault by football players. Two players were later convicted of sexual assault, The Associated Press reported.
In Wednesday’s interview, Starr disagreed with allegations that the university created a perception that football was above the rules. He called Briles a “player’s coach” who only “wants the best” for the young men. Starr said he was not consulted in the decision to fire Briles and did not hear an explanation from him.
The scandal came to light last fall, when Baylor’s Board of Regents commissioned an independent external review of the university’s management of and compliance with Title IX. The findings reflected a “fundamental failure” by the school to implement Title IX and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, the university announced.
Baylor failed to “consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures” and “failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects,” the university said.
Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents, said in the statement that the school is “horrified” by the extent of the acts of sexual violence on campus.
“This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” Willis said in the statement. “The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”
Baylor University is a private, Baptist college located in Waco, Texas.
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