Texas A&M coaches can now be fired for mishandling sexual assault and violence cases, per report

Members of Jimbo Fisher’s coaching staff are receiving an interesting clause in their contracts with Texas A&M. (AP Photo)
Members of Jimbo Fisher’s coaching staff are receiving an interesting clause in their contracts with Texas A&M. (AP Photo)

It will soon be quite easy for Texas A&M to cut ties with coaches who mishandle or ignore cases involving sexual assault or gender violence, as the school has apparently inserted a very clear stipulation into the contracts of their new football coaching staff.

Texas A&M coaches with the contract clause who fail to “promptly report” any information regarding such cases will be open to firing without receiving any damages, according to contracts received by The Dallas Morning News.

In contracts for selected assistants obtained by The Dallas Morning News through open records requests, the university clearly outlined that if an assistant fails to “promptly report” any information pertaining to alleged gender violence or sexual assault, they can be fired without receiving damages. That language did not appear to exist in previous contracts with football staffers.

The assistants to receive the clause so far are reportedly offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey, tight ends coach Tim Brewster, defensive ends coach Terry Price and director of football operations Mark Robinson. Contracts for the rest of the staff, including head coach Jimbo Fisher, are apparently not yet finalized, but you can imagine they will contain more of the same.

Past coaches have reportedly had a clause allowing them to be fired for an “act of dishonesty, theft, moral turpitude or insubordination,” but this new clause is much more specific.

What are Texas A&M coaches required to do?

According to The Dallas Morning News’ report, the coaches are required to contact the school’s Title IX coordinator, the athletic department’s senior woman coordinator or law enforcement “in the case of an emergency situation … alleged or suspected illegal gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, stalking and/or related retaliation.”

The contracts also reportedly state the coaches have to annually meet with the school’s senior woman administrator “to discuss their role in Title IX compliance.”

Why Texas A&M is using such a contract clause

While the firing of coaches who either deliberately or inadvertently ignore sexual assault or other crimes by their players is often perceived as the end of most scandals, there is usually a complicated epilogue in which coaches and schools negotiate how much money the coach deserves to keep from their contract.

To use an extreme example, Baylor ended up having to quietly pay disgraced head coach Art Briles more than $15 million in the aftermath of the rape scandal that caused the school to clean house in its football program. The sizable sum is the result of the nearly $39 million that Briles had left on a 10-year contract he signed with the team.

Had Baylor inserted a clause like Texas A&M’s, it might have avoided having to part with such a sum. Coaches fired under such circumstance often dispute whether or not they were fired “for cause,” so explicitly making the ignoring of gender violence a legitimate cause removes that risk if Texas A&M has to fire a coach for such reasons.

Urban Meyer could see consequences under similar clause

One situation in which such a clause is relevant is up north in Ohio State, where head coach Urban Meyer was placed under administrative leave while the school investigates whether or not he knew of domestic violence allegations against longtime assistant Zach Smith.

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