Baylor hires Temple’s Rhule as football coach

Baylor hires Temple’s Rhule as football coach

By Stephen Hawkins

Associated Press

Baylor hired Matt Rhule on Tuesday, hoping the highly successful Temple coach can rebuild the Big 12 Conference program hit hard by scandal and suddenly struggling on the field.

Rhule becomes the full-time replacement for two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles, who was dismissed after a scathing report over the university’s handling of sexual assault complaints, including some against football players. Rhule will be introduced on the Waco campus Wednesday.

Former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe had been out of coaching two years when he put his retirement on hold in May to serve as Baylor’s acting head coach this season. The Bears are 6-6, and headed to the Cactus Bowl despite a six-game losing streak.

The 41-year-old Rhule is a former Penn State linebacker who has a monumental task ahead of him in putting together a coaching staff and a recruiting class at Baylor. With a month-long quiet period in recruiting starting Saturday, Baylor has only one firm verbal commitment.

Mack Rhoades, who took over as athletic director in August, said in a statement that he wanted to find “a coach who shared our values, who had demonstrated success, who showed a true commitment to the overall student-athlete” and could lead the Bears to championships.

“We found all of that and more in Matt, and I know that he will be a perfect fit with the Baylor family,” Rhoades said.

Rhule was 28-23 in four seasons at Temple, his only previous head coaching job. The Owls are 10-3 this season and won the American Athletic Conference championship with a win over Navy last weekend, after going 10-4 last year.

The Bears, with a dozen seniors, have about 70 scholarship players this season after half of their highly touted 22-player signing class from last spring backed out of their commitments. It also seems unlikely that any of the assistant coaches, all retained from Briles’ staff, will remain.

Baylor, the nation’s largest Baptist university, has been rocked since an investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm determined that the school mishandled assault claims for years. The firm’s report in May led to the immediate suspension of Briles, who had eight seasons left on his contract and reached an undisclosed settlement with the school a month later.

The school still faces several federal lawsuits by women who say the university ignored or tried to suppress their claims of sexual and physical assault. School regents recently disclosed that 17 women had reported domestic violence or sexual assaults that involved 19 football players since 2011.

Two women who reported being gang-raped reached a settlement with the school last month. While details of the attacks weren’t disclosed, Baylor interim President David Garland said then that players implicated in those cases were no longer at the school.

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