When coach Matt Rhule took the job at Baylor he knew it wasn’t going to be easy considering the mess he was walking into, but he welcomed the challenge. What he probably didn’t count on though, is his own staff embarrassing the program further. In roughly the last month Rhule has fired two of his own hires. He let go assistant strength and conditioning coach Brandon Washington when after he was busted for tying to solicit a prostitute in February, and he just recently fired assistant director of football operations DeMarko Butler after it was revealed that he had been sending inappropriate texts to a teenage girl.
Coach Rhule addressed concerns with his staff with the media, and made it clear that coaches at Baylor will be held to a certain standard. And if they don’t meet that standard, they will be held accountable.
“I can’t really comment on the specifics because they were personnel matters,” Rhule said. “But what I will say is, I feel like we’ve established clear expectations and a code of conduct for every person — for myself, for coaches, for the staff, for the players. I think hopefully everyone knows in our program that if you fail to meet those expectations, you’re going to be held accountable.”
For Baylor and coach Rhule’s part, they did terminate both coaches immediately. There was no suspension to wait and see how the judicial proceedings would play out. It was instant termination.
“Personally, I’m disappointed that all these wonderful coaches and staff who are doing things the right way, that this has kind of overshadowed what they’re doing, that it reflected poorly on the men that work for us,” Rhule said. “But at the end of the day, we all know there’s a standard we’re setting and if you don’t meet that standard, action will be taken.”
Coach Rhule and his staff walked into a seemingly impossible situation: Reform a program in the midst of a massive sexual assault scandal whose players and remaining coaches still openly support disgraced former coach Art Briles. And let’s remember, we still don’t know what the full fallout will be from the NCAA as far as sanctions and scholarship reductions. Coach Rhule understands that challenge. To be frank though, I don’t know how any of Rhule’s hires would not understand the scrutiny Baylor is under. If they don’t want the responsibility of being under a microscope, it’s simple, don’t take the job.
Rhule also made it clear that he and the school have worked hard to look into the background of his staff when making the hires, but explained that at the end of the day, you still don’t know who they are in their personal lives.
“What I do know is this: I don’t really know what anybody does with their personal life,” Rhule said. “I don’t know if any of us know, with the people we work with, what they really do in their personal life. I know what people do professionally. So when I call and I get references, you’re really kind of hearing about what they do professionally. When something comes up personally, if it’s not up to our standard, we take corrective action.”
Coach Rhule can’t guarantee that everyone will always do the right thing at Baylor. However, what he can promise is, that under him, if someone fails to meet expectations they will be held accountable. So far, he’s delivered on that promise.