Last week’s indictment of former defensive end Shawn Oakman on charges of felony sexual assault is yet another symptom of ongoing problems in intercollegiate athletics at Baylor. I believe that naming Jim Grobe interim coach is a good move, although he could use some coaching himself on shaping his message. Consider these quotes from the Big 12 media days:
“I’m not here to change things.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
There is not “a culture of bad behavior at Baylor University.”
Even though the first two comments were in the context of football strategy, the tone seems inconsistent with the mission of a coach hired to clean things up.
But the makeover at Baylor, complete with a new president, athletics director, and head coach, is threatened by something else. The school has violated one of the key principles of crisis management. When I counsel clients in crisis, I stress the principles of transparency, authenticity, speed, agility, and creativity. The leadership at Baylor instructed the law firm responsible for an external investigation to deliver the report in oral form. The only documents from the investigation were a 13-page summary and a list of recommendations. According to Baylor, the comprehensive report and its findings of fact do not exist in written form.
Transparency is the first principle of effective crisis management, and Baylor’s actions reflect an institution that remains determined to conceal information. That decision will only make it harder to get past this crisis and move forward.