Baylor has a brand new coaching staff after former coach Art Briles was found responsible for enabling rape culture among his football players, leading to a university-wide scandal that exposed Baylor’s failings in dealing with sexual assaults.
However, one of Briles’ former assistants, Cris Dishman, is now giving seminars on sexual assault in college football. The problem: He’s still a Briles supporter
— Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) April 24, 2017
In an interview with 247Sports, Dishman said he never realized how prevalent sexual assault is on college campuses:
“When I was coaching, I did not know things were at the proportions they were,” Dishman said. “I was focused on my guys, and I didn’t see the bigger picture. It’s an epidemic. It’s everywhere.”
It’s good that Dishman has suddenly realized what a big issue sexual assault on campus is. But the problem is that he’s still defending a man who enabled rape, and he isn’t apologizing for doing so.
“You have to know Coach Briles … he’s such a genuine individual, a great person,” Dishman said. “To me, that’s how he’s always been. And I’ll always be indebted to (Briles) because he had faith and confidence in me as a person. Enough to give me my first job at a Power Five football program. I’ll always be loyal to him because he gave me that opportunity.
“I know everybody is going to look at this different. That’s fine.”
It’s impossible to solve a problem or even genuinely think you’re part of the solution if you’re still supporting the powerful enablers that allowed the problem to explode in the first place. Unless Dishman admits Briles messed up, he cannot be taken seriously in trying to stop sexual assault on campus. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any of Dishman’s (lack of) knowledge or experience makes him an expert and qualified speaker on this topic.
The issues with the assistant coaches at Baylor go beyond Dishman.
Brenda Tracy, who was raped by four men, including two Oregon State football players, in 1998, is a legitimate speaker about sexual assault on college campuses. She has been across the country to talk to teams, who have been almost unanimously receptive of her message. Except for Baylor, when she spoke there last September.
However, directly after my talk, a football coaching staff member pulled me aside and in a very disturbing manner began to give me his “opinion.” He was obviously very angry and defensive about what was happening. I was shocked by what he was saying. He knew that I had a voice in the media and he was doing nothing but making Baylor look guilty and he was validating for me that the football culture was toxic and that all the claims being made against them and Art Briles were probably true.
I left that man’s office feeling defeated. If he was any indication of how the rest of the staff felt, then the talk I just gave to the football team was useless. He was going to undo any good that I had done.
Unless former Briles assistants and Baylor staffers are willing to completely disavow the role the football program played in enabling rape, they should stay out of talking about sexual assault. Giving the enablers a pass does nothing to solve the problem.