Art Briles denies awareness of Sam Ukwuachu’s past at Boise State

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Baylor head coach Art Briles needed to address the news regarding Sam Ukwuachu, but his responses will do him few favors. Addressing the media Friday morning, Briles said he was not aware of the troubled past Ukwuachu had at Boise State before adding him to the Baylor program via transfer.

Ukwuachu was found guilty of raping a former Baylor soccer player yesterday, the culmination of an investigation from an October 2013 incident. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Ukwuachu transferred to Boise State in the summer of 2013 and sat out the 2013 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He ended up missing the 2014 season due to an ongoing legal manner, which turned out to be the sexual assault case, with a pair of counts for felony sexual assault.

Baylor’s public response to Ukwuachu’s ongoing saga off the field has become a target of criticism. As noted in a story last night, Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has been on record suggesting Ukwuachu would be eligible to play this season. In the past Briles has said the program has been extremely sensitive of the process while waiting for the legal process to play out, saying he endorsed the way it has been handled by the university and athletic department. Briles doubled down this morning, saying he had no knowledge of the violent past of the defensive end, this despite Baylor officials communicating with Boise State throughout the transfer process.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsBriles even dropped the name of former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen (now the head coach at Washington) in his defense this morning.

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Looking at things as they stand now, without using the benefit of hindsight as much as possible, it is far to suggest Briles and his staff could have and should have done a little more background checking before extending an opportunity at a second chance to Ukwuachu. If Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is to be vilified by some for the characters he brings into his program, Briles should be able to withstand similar complaints (as could a number of coaches around the world of college football). Many people deserve second chances, and some will mess them up anyway. That appears to be the case for Ukwuachu at Baylor, and Briles will have to take some heat for it. However, the person deserving of the most blame once again is Ukwuachu, who will now serve his time according to the sentence delivered from the judicial system.

Hopefully the next time Briles is considering bringing in a transfer, he and his staff will do a little bit more homework as well.