Ex-Baylor official Colin Shillinglaw alleges slander, libel, wrongful firing

February 1, 2017, 11:11 PM

— -- Former Baylor?assistant athletic director Colin Shillinglaw, one of three athletic department employees fired in the wake of the school's sexual assault scandal, filed a civil lawsuit in Texas state court Tuesday accusing the university and its leaders, board of regents members and the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton of slander, libel and tortious interference of his contract.?

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas, alleges Shillinglaw was fired in May because of false statements Baylor leaders made to Pepper Hamilton attorneys and false statements the lawyers made to the regents. The suit also claims the regents made libelous statements about him in interviews with media about the scandal.

Shillinglaw and former assistant athletic director Tom Hill were fired in May, after Pepper Hamilton lawyers found systematic failures in the way Baylor responded to allegations of sexual assault and other violence by students, including football players. The investigation led to the firing of football coach Art Briles, the demotion and eventual departure of university president and chancellor Ken Starr, and the sanctioning and resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw.

The lawsuit states, "Pepper Hamilton's presentation to the Baylor Board of Regents addressed multiple issues, including numerous statements focusing on Mr. Shillinglaw. These statements apparently alleged Mr. Shillinglaw improperly discharged his duties with the University. Not only were these statements false, they were reckless, deceptive, and defamatory."

Shillinglaw was the assistant athletic director for football operations at Baylor and oversaw team travel, academics, budgets, personnel and game-day operations, according to his former bio on the school's website. He worked at Baylor for eight years and had worked under Briles at the University of Houston and Stephenville (Texas) High School.

Outside the Lines previously reported that a Waco police report indicated Shillinglaw was the person police should contact if they needed anything from the football program.

"The goal of the Baylor Regents' narrative was clearly to show that the leadership in the football program was the issue," the lawsuit says. "To reinforce this perception, the Baylor Regents constantly pointed to the termination of football personnel as their solution."

Shillinglaw's lawsuit specifically names Baylor interim president David Garland, vice president Reagan Ramsower, regents Cary Gray, Ron Murff, David Harper and Dennis Wiles, and Pepper Hamilton as defendants.

"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 spokesman Jason Cook said.?

It is the third lawsuit filed against Baylor in the past month.

A former financial aid officer filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against the university on Wednesday, claiming she was fired in retaliation for reinstating a football player's scholarship she states was improperly revoked because of allegations of a sexual assault that had not yet been investigated. On Friday, a former female student filed a Title IX lawsuit, alleging the football program fostered a culture in which alcohol and illegal drugs were provided to recruits, and that coaches encouraged female students in the Baylor Bruins hostess program to have sex with recruits and players. The suit claims the program's culture led to her being sexually assaulted by Bears football player Tre'Von Armstead and former practice squad player Myke Chatman at her apartment on April 18, 2013.

Hill, a former assistant athletic director for community relations and special projects, filed a suit against Baylor in state court last year, seeking legal action to force the university and regents to release full details of the Pepper Hamilton report. But he withdrew his request in September after reaching an undisclosed financial settlement with the school.

Briles sued three regents and Baylor vice president Reagan Ramsower for libel and slander in December, accusing them of falsely stating he knew of reported assaults and alleged gang rapes by players and didn't report them.