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Southern Mississippi announced Wednesday former Baylor football coach Art Briles was no longer a candidate its offensive coordinator vacancy. Briles had interview for the position Monday.
Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett and interim athletic director Jeff Mitchell confirmed the decision in a joint statement.
“We have met with Art Briles regarding a position with the Southern Miss football program,” the statement read. “Following that meeting, we informed him that he is not a candidate. The University will have no further comment on this matter.”
Following the announcement, Golden Eagles coach Jay Hopson offered a spirited defense of Briles and argued the coach who was fired after a sexual assault scandal at Baylor in 2016 deserves a second chance.
“Although I respect the decision of Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it,” Hopson said said in a statement. “I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position at Southern Miss and I believe he is a man who believes a second chance. He is a man that seemed sincere and humble in his interview and personally he committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol but that would be my JOB at Southern Miss! He was interviewing for an assistant position, even thought I believe he will be a head coach at a major program in the near future. However, I believe he is a man who does love the Lord and deserves a second chance. He has been banned from a job in college football for three years and has been punished. I understand both sides have opinions, this is just mine.”
Briles said he was informed by the school that an ongoing NCAA investigation into the situation at Baylor was the main reason Southern Miss declining to hire him.
“I appreciate the trust and support of Coach Hopson – I was informed by the Interim AD today, that the ongoing NCAA investigation with Baylor and me was the main issue (on not being hired at Southern Miss)”
Baylor football players were accused of at least 52 known acts of rape in five years by at least 31 different players during Briles’ tenure as head coach, according to a lawsuit.
Since being fired at Baylor, Briles was briefly hired as an assistant coach for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL but was quickly fired after the backlash of his hiring became too severe. In August 2018, Briles was hired as the head coach of a football team in Florence, Italy for the 2019 season.