Former Baylor official drops libel suit, turns to arbitration

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Former Baylor Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations Collin Shillinglaw who was fired last year in the wake of a scathing law firm review of the school’s sexual assault scandal, has dropped a libel suit he filed earlier this year against university officials, members of the Baylor Board of Regents, and Pepper Hamilton LLP, whose attorneys delivered the report to the board in May 2016.

“Shillinglaw is simply changing where he going to pursue these defendants,” his attorney, Gaines West of College Station, said in a press release Thursday.

“Shillinglaw’s present employment agreement with Baylor requires all disputes be resolved by arbitration,” West said.

Pursuing the claims through arbitration rather than in court should speed up the resolution, West said, because “It will not allow these defendants to escape responsibility by using delaying tactics through the courts that could last for many years.”

“Colin Shillinglaw wants to be able to tell his story and get the real truth out,” West said.

“Today’s action ensures this goal will happen sooner, rather than much later.”

Baylor declined to comment on the move Thursday.

Shillinglaw, who had been with former head coach Art Briles for almost 30 years, was told on May 26, 2016 that he was being fired, but then was later suspended with intent to terminate.

On the same day, saying they “were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” regents reassigned Chancellor and President Ken Starr, fired Briles and put Athletic Director Ian McCaw on suspension.

Starr and Briles later reached agreements with the school and McCaw has since been named athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

The suit Shillinglaw filed on Jan. 31 named interim President Dr. David Garland, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower, and regents James Cary Gray, Ronald D. Murff, David H. Harper and Dr. Dennis Wiles.

"Baylor contends this suit is completely without merit and we will defend the university aggressively. We look forward to presenting our defense in a court of law,” Baylor Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook said in a statement after the suit was filed.

The suit alleged that the Pepper Hamilton review presented to regents in May 2016 included “numerous statements focusing on Mr. Shillinglaw.”

“Not only were these statements false, they were reckless, deceptive and defamatory,” the suit alleged.

The suit claimed the statements stemmed from a complaint in 2013 against an athlete about which “Ramsower provided false and defamatory statements” to the law firm and/or regents regarding Shillinglaw’s involvement.

And it claimed that in spite of the university’s insistence that no information would be released about the review beyond the 13-page findings of fact document released on May 26, several regents began giving interviews to various outlets including The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News and the Waco Tribune Herald.

The suit alleged that the regents interviewed by the news organizations “continued to make defamatory statements.”

The suit, filed in Dallas County sought unspecified damages.

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