The Ticats degraced themselves today, and Hamiltonians overwhelmingly spoke up to force the cancellation of the hire of one of the most disgraced coaches in US college football.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell is known for his tin-ear, and for having the unwavering support of Ticats owner Bob Young. His relationship with the civic government is famously poor, we have our lemon of a stadium in large part because of Mitchell's arrogance, and the Ticats dream of a soccer franchise is on hold as a result of Mitchell's political ineptitude.
Today, Mitchell brought North American wide ridicule upon the Tiger-Cats organization by hiring former Baylor Head Football coach Art Briles. Briles was fired in a wide-ranging sexual assault scandal involving his football teams. Here's a summary from Nancy Armour of USA Today:
Nowhere in the glowing release does it mention that Briles was unceremoniously dumped by Baylor after a damning report found that his staff had ignored or actively discouraged sexual assault complaints involving football players, including four alleged gang rapes.
According to a Title IX lawsuit filed against Baylor in May – the seventh, for those keeping track – Briles’ response when told about one of the gang-rape complaints was to say, “Those are some bad dudes. … Why was she around those guys?”
Read Armour's full column, it is damning.
Briles' past was not some obscure factoid, his actions and inactions were well known. As Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star put it "Briles presided over one of the most notorious sexual assault scandals in U.S. college football history when he ran the Baylor program until being fired in 2016."
It took seconds from the Ticats announcement of the hire until the online outcry began.
It was an outcry unlike anything I've seen on social media in Hamilton. Tonight, people who've never talked Ticats with me were stopping me on the street to discuss, they were angry at the cloud of disgrace brought upon our city.
As fans, sponsors, and even The Hamilton Spectator's sports columnist called for a boycott, Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell doubled down stating to TheSpec "Art Briles a is a good man that was caught in a very bad situation. Clearly, some serious mistakes were made along the way but we feel strongly that people deserve second chances and that's what we've decided to do with Art Briles".
Aside: the fan I linked to, Manny Oliveira is the most diehard fan I know
Mitchell's comments came as a surprise to Fort Worth Sar-Telegraph sports journalist Mac Engel who covered the Baylor U scandal: Claim that Baylor exonerated former football coach Art Briles demands an explanation (Mac Engel is as close to a supporter as Briles has in the media, writing a piece in October about where Engel should coach again)
The outrage in the media was overwhelming, here's some of the media columns:
- Art Briles Didn't Deserve a Second Chance in the CFL, or Anywhere Else, Jon Taylor, Sports Illustrated
- Why is Art Briles, fired for his role in Baylor’s sexual assault scandal, a coach again?, Brendan Marks, Charlotte Observer
- Angry about Art Briles? There’s no public morality in pro sports, John Doyle (TV Critic), The Globe and Mail
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats' hiring of Art Briles goes beyond the desperation of a winless CFL team, Scott Stinson, The National Post
- It was inevitable that Art Briles got another job in football, Nina Mandell, USA Today
Finally, after all the outrage, the Canadian Football League acted, and Briles' CFL career ended the same day it started:
“Art Briles will no longer be joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a coach. We came to this decision this evening following a lengthy discussion between the league and the Hamilton organization. We wish Mr. Briles all the best in his future endeavours.”
Ticats owner Bob Young tweeted late Monday night "@CFL's @RandyAmbrosie saved the @Ticats from a major blunder today. Longer mea culpa coming tomorrow."
It was very heartening to see how many Hamiltonians spoke out against our societial failings to address and stop sexual assault.
Many donated to the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area) in response.
Tiger-Cat fans are continuing to demand answers and accountability tonight; hopefully they'll get some.
As for me, I long ago stopped watching football over the concession scandals. As for community associations with the Ticats, I'm done until they fix their corporate culture.
The only reason that disgraced coach Briles is not on the Ticats payroll is because of the public outrage and league intervention.
What will become of those who made the disgraceful decision to hire Briles in the first place?
It's time for Scott Mitchell to be removed as CEO, the rot starts at the top, and change needs to start there.
"Congratulations, Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Your 0-8 record, which includes a 60-1 loss, is no longer the worst thing you’ve done this season", USA Today's Armour is right.