Former Baylor coach Art Briles came to coach at Mount Vernon, a “Texas Treasure” located about 100 miles east of Dallas, amidst national backlash 19 months ago. And now, after two seasons coaching the 3A school, Briles is moving on.
Mount Vernon announced Briles’ resignation Monday in a news release shared by David Smoak of Baylor sports blog SicEm365 and confirmed by The Dallas Morning News with Mount Vernon ISD Superintendent Jason McCullough.
“After coaching 42 games of football from Florence, Italy, to Mount Vernon, Texas in the last 22 months, I respectfully resign as head football coach and athletic director of the Mount Vernon Tigers,” Briles said in a written statement. “[My wife] Jan and I will forever be indebted to the great folks of Mount Vernon for welcoming us into their community with trust and open arms! Also much love to the students, teachers and administrators, but most importantly to the players and trainers and coaches that dedicated their souls and spirit to achieve a vision of Tiger Grit! I also want to express a special thanks to Dr. McCullough and the Mount Vernon ISD School Board for their belief and trust.”
McCullough also had this statement: “On behalf of MVISD Board of Trustees and all of Mount Vernon, I want to thank Coach Briles for his two years here in Mount Vernon. He and his staff have invested themselves into our community, into our school, and more importantly the lives of our students. This football season was an awesome experience and one that all of Mount Vernon will always remember. He is an amazing coach and the program he has built in Mount Vernon puts us in a position to be successful moving forward. We wish him the very best in whatever the future holds for he and Jan.”
Briles finished 20-6 at Mount Vernon. The Tigers lost to Tuscola Jim Ned 24-17 in the 3A Division I state semifinals on Thursday.
Mount Vernon head coach Art Briles walks off the field after a 24-17 loss to Jim Ned in the state semifinals.
As his two-year contract with Mount Vernon comes to a close, rumors swirl about where he might end up in 2021. pic.twitter.com/nJ8UQKetJg
— Nick Harris (@NickHarris247) December 11, 2020
Mount Vernon’s hiring of Briles in May 2019 was a controversial decision. Briles was fired from Baylor three years before amid a sexual assault scandal involving the football team.
An investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm, commissioned by Baylor University, led to a 13-page “finding of fact” report from Baylor’s Board of Regents. That report said football staff members conducted inquiries into sexual assaults by players and did not report them to administration, and that school administrators also encouraged victims to not report complaints.
Briles, 65, received a $15.1 million settlement from the school and has denied wrongdoing. When he was fired, he had $39 million remaining on a 10-year contract that was scheduled to run through 2023.
Parts of that scandal are still playing out in court. Last summer, a federal judge issued an order requiring Pepper Hamilton, based in Philadelphia, to turn over its documents and material in relation to a Title IX lawsuit involving the school, according to The Houston Chronicle.
In addition, a review of “what’s on public record” regarding Briles, Pepper Hamilton and Baylor circulated last week. It was done by Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird to determine “whether Coach Briles might be a candidate to coach football again at the collegiate level,” according to documents obtained by KWTX-TV. The report was commissioned by John Eddie Williams, a former Baylor football player and benefactor whose goal is to “pursue redemption and fairness,” and that “Coach Briles deserved a better hearing than he got.”
While at Mount Vernon, Briles also saw two of his players — Cameron Nellor and Brock Nellor — ruled ineligible for moving from Colorado to Mount Vernon for athletic purposes. Brock was a senior quarterback on this year’s Mount Vernon team.
Briles’ resignation, shortly before the end of his two-year contract at Mount Vernon ended, could be telling. Brett McMurphy, a college football insider at Stadium, reported Sunday that Briles would be a “leading candidate” at Liberty University if current coach Hugh Freeze were to leave.