The Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education is considering a bill that would force Baylor University and one other private university in the state to hold public board meetings.
The sports angle? The bill’s author, Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) says Baylor football’s cover-up of numerous sexual assault and rape cases involving student-athletes plays a role in why he wants transparency.
“When you look at the situation [at Baylor] regarding Title IX and whatever considerations of Title IX by the board of regents in the protection of young Texans, I think there is a real interest in the state of Texas in that,” Seliger said. “So yeah, Baylor’s involved in this.”
The university is currently facing six Title IX lawsuits for their self-admitted “fundamental failure” in Title IX implementation. The same investigation said that the football program operated “above the rules.” A federal judge recently granted a lawsuit to proceed after Baylor argued to have it dismissed.
As one might expect, Baylor representatives aren’t open to the idea. The billed was filed in February, a week after a Baylor task force came out against it, citing that such a requirement would “risk unnecessarily disclosing competitive information and detract from the free and open exchange of views and robust dialogue that are necessary to fulfill regents’ fiduciary duties.”
“From a Christian perspective, we’ve confessed our sins, tried to repent and tried to make restitution,” university president David Garland said.
Seliger’s bill would only affect private colleges and universities receiving $5 million or more in state money to open up their meetings.
“It occurred to me that all institutions receiving public money have some public responsibility for transparency,” Seliger said. “At the same time, I think the fact that private institutions and the prerogatives they have as private institutions, not state institutions, deserve some protections, and that’s why the bill is very, very narrow in terms of the institutions it may include.”
But Baylor’s inclusion seems to have been intentional.
“Maybe what the openness and transparency issues might show, in the determinations of a board of regents, is maybe [Baylor] learned something,” Seliger said. “Because at this point, I don’t know if there’s any evidence of that.”