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Baylor under scrutiny after sexual assault conviction of Sam Ukwuachu

Baylor under scrutiny after sexual assault conviction of Sam Ukwuachu
Former Boise State and Baylor football playerSam Ukwuachu takes the stand during his trial in Waco, Texas. (Jerry Larson / Waco Tribune-Herald)

Baylor University says it will conduct an investigation into the handling of sexual assault allegations by the school against a football player who was allowed to transfer into the program by Coach Art Briles despite a history of disciplinary problems at Boise State.

Following the conviction of defensive end Sam Ukwuachu on sexual assault charges, Baylor President Ken Starr called for a "comprehensive internal inquiry into the circumstances associated with the case the conduct of the offices involved."

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The review will be led by law professor Jeremy Counseller, who is a faculty athletic representative to the Big 12 and NCAA and former assistant criminal district attorney.

The 22-year-old Ukwuachu was sentenced to six months in jail and put on 10 years of probation Friday in Texas district court for sexually assaulting a former Baylor women's soccer player last year.

Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during the trial that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

The case has brought scrutiny to Baylor for its internal investigation of the allegations, which resulted in no penalties against Ukwuachu, and to Briles for allowing Ukwuachu to enroll at the Waco, Texas, school.

Briles said in a statement Friday that he spoke with then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen about Ukwuachu when the player was looking to transfer, but was never told of incidents of violence toward women. Petersen is now coaching Washington.

"I know and respect Coach Petersen and he would never recommend a student-athlete to Baylor that he didn't believe in. In our discussion, he did not disclose that there had been violence toward women, but he did tell me of a rocky relationship with his girlfriend which contributed to (Ukwuachu's) depression," Briles said. "The only disciplinary action I was aware of were team-related issues, insubordination of coaches and missing practice."

Briles also said he spoke with Ukwuachu's high school coach.

"As required with any transfer to Baylor, Boise State acknowledged that he was not suspended due to any institutional disciplinary reasons and further that he was eligible for competition if he chose to return to Boise State," Briles said.

After Briles spoke to reporters earlier in the day about his conversation with Petersen, the Washington coach released a statement.

"After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles," Petersen said. "In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal."

Ukwuachu, from Pearland, Texas, started 12 games for Boise State as a freshman, but was dismissed from the team and left the school in the spring of 2013. Boise State never gave details as to why Ukwuachu was kicked off the team.

He transferred to Baylor never played for Baylor. He was ineligible in 2013 because of NCAA transfer rules and suspended in 2014, though Baylor never gave a reason.

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