Baylor University paid ex-football coach $15 million after sex scandal

March 31 (Reuters) - Baylor University in Texas paid more than $15.1 million to its former head football coach Art Briles after firing him in 2016 for failing to address students' complaints of rape and sexual assault by football players, new tax filings show.

A spokeswoman for Baylor, a private Baptist university in Waco, said the money was severance pay, made as part of a legal settlement, and came from institutional reserves.

Kenneth Starr, who was forced to step down as the university's president and chancellor in the wake of the scandal, received more than $4.5 million in severance pay, the school said. Starr rose to prominence in the 1990s for his investigation of Bill Clinton's sex scandals while Clinton was U.S. president.

Starr said in 2016 he was not aware of the assault allegations but accepted responsibility. Both Briles and Baylor have said there were "serious shortcomings" in how they responded to the complaints of assault.

The payments, which were first reported by the Dallas Morning News, appear in the university's 990 form, a disclosure document the university must file annually with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit organization.

Last year, Baylor reached a settlement with a former student who had sued, saying she was a victim of gang rape by football players, and that the school overlooked a violent culture in order to keep good players on its team.

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating the school's response to students' complaints of sexual assault by football players.

In a statement, Baylor said the payments to the staff it removed were legal settlements, and that it had improved its procedures for reporting sexual assault, among other measures.

"Baylor remains steadfast in our unwavering commitment to care for our students and respond appropriately to incidents of sexual violence," the school's statement said. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)