Making his first public comments since Grambling State confirmed it was officially hiring Art Briles as offensive coordinator, head coach Hue Jackson defended the move.
In a statement written on the Hue Jackson Foundation letterhead, the coach wrote that Briles’ hiring was a testament to “forgiveness,” “redemption” and “enlightenment” in response to what was described as “confusion and concerns” over the ex-Baylor’s coach position within the program.
“The Hue Jackson Foundation has been dedicated to fighting against ALL forms of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as other forms of racial and social bias,” Jackson wrote. “We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the lives of those they meet.”
Briles, 66, has not coached in the college game since he was fired by Baylor following the 2016 season after an investigation determined that he and the football staff ignored allegations of sexual assault committed by several Baylor football players.
An NCAA investigation, however, did not find Baylor or Briles guilty because its inaction at the time did not violate bylaws set by the collegiate governing body.
Also read: Grambling State AD confirms school hires Art Briles as offensive coordinator
During his eight seasons in Waco, Briles went 65-37 and won a pair of Big 12 championships during a run that led to four Top 25 finishes.
Briles last coached at Mount Vernon High School in Texas, where the team finished the season 20-6 and even reached the Class 3A Division I semifinals in 2020.
Before his time at Baylor, Briles was the head coach at the University of Houston from 2003-2007.
He has had a previous coaching stop in the Italian Football League.
“We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal, and the importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of Coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”
In an interview with KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana last week, Briles indicated that he needed to work to earn trust back after what transpired at Baylor.
“I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day-in and day-out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this university,” he said.
Despite staunch criticism from alums like Super Bowl winning quarterback Doug Williams and many sexual assault victim advocates in recent days, Jackson, who once described Briles as someone who had been “knocked down before” in 2016 when Briles was invited by Jackson as a guest to Cleveland Browns training camp, said he will support the embattled coach.
The foundation’s website says its mission is to fight human trafficking through “awareness, education and prevention” while assisting survivors.
“As we move forward together with Coach Briles, we ask that people keep in mind that no matter your views on this topic, please remember that people can and often do become re-traumatized and re-victimized by statements which may or may not be accurate,” Jackson’s statement said. “We will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault, violence, social and racial injustices and we will continue to provide equal opportunity for healing for everyone.”