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Three Baylor University players have been suspended from the school’s tumultuous football program after being accused of sexually assaulting women in the hours after their November loss to Texas Tech.
The accusers, reported by ESPN as being members of Baylor’s equestrian team, told police they were raped at the University Parks Apartments just outside campus on Nov. 12.
“I don't know much about the case,” head coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday. “And I think that's really a good thing because I probably shouldn't really know much about it because I'm the football coach.”
The allegations come following a massive sex assault scandal that engulfed the program two years ago, in which more than 20 lawsuits were filed against the school, with one alleging 52 rapes by football players over a 4-year period.
An internal investigation of that scandal by a Philadelphia law firm hired by the school found that Baylor’s football program operated like it was “above the rules” and that coaches and staff interfered when people came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, according to FOX4News.
The scandal eventually led to the firing of then-coach Art Briles and the resignation of Baylor’s president, Ken Starr, as well as the school announcing last year that it had implemented 105 recommendations for improvement from the law firm.
Prior to his press conference Wednesday, Rhule said freshmen John Arthur, Justin Harris and Tre'von Lewis, and sophomore Eric Ogor would not be taking part in spring practices. He declined to say which of those players were mentioned in the new accusations – but said three have been suspended since November, shortly after the alleged incidents were reported to Baylor police.
A school spokesman told ESPN that one of the players is being kept off the team over an issue unrelated to the sexual assault allegations, but didn’t elaborate. All of the players remain enrolled at Baylor.
A police report viewed by media outlets was heavily redacted. ESPN reported that the local district attorney's office is weighing possible criminal charges against the players but has not yet brought the case in front of a grand jury.
"Baylor University takes any allegation of sexual assault seriously,” University President Linda Livingstone said in a statement. “The University's new leadership team is unwavering in our commitment to follow our well-documented Title IX policy and procedures in regards to reporting and responding to incidents of sexual assault."
Rhule insisted to reporters Wednesday that the culture of Baylor’s football program has changed since the 2016 scandal.
“There's bad culture when kids do things and grownups hide them,” he was quoted by Fox4News as saying. “And nobody's hiding anything here. And so that's why I know that we're doing things right.”