Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell defends hiring of Art Briles

Following the controversial hiring of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, we asked Hamilton Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell about the team’s decision and the reaction from across North America.

Drew Edwards: Were you aware of the issues surrounding Art Briles’ tenure at Baylor before you hired him?

Scott Mitchell: We were very well aware of it and it’s been a long deliberation internally, collecting information, talking to as many people as possible, quite frankly getting the facts about things straightened away. The history is that June Jones and Art Briles have known each other for decades and June was very forthright about what the situation was and the more we contemplated it, deliberated over it – and obviously I spoke to Bob Young about it as well –we just thought it was a very serious situation but we also felt that after talking to dozens of people, people we trust, people we admire, that Art Briles a is a good man that was caught in a very bad situation. Clearly, some serious mistakes were made along the way but we feel strongly that people deserve second chances and that’s what we’ve decided to do with Art Briles.

DE: Was the league aware of the hiring of Art Briles before you announced it?

SM: They were. I spoke to the league about it as a potential concept and had a good discussion about it, a good deliberation about it. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether a person deserves a second chance. In no way, shape or form can you diminish the clearly institutional, horrific issues that went on at Baylor. But Art was exonerated by his own university, he certainly had nothing to do with no criminal discussions or proceedings. That doesn’t excuse what went on there by any stretch or the horrific experiences that some young women went through. But as an organization we have to decide whether we’re going to give people a second chance and judge them for their own character, morality, and ethics. I can tell you there wasn’t one single person that we spoke to who knows Art Briles that didn’t think he deserved an opportunity to work in football.

DE: There are many people, including Ticats fans, who are expressing outrage about this. Are you concerned by the reaction?

SM: I’m always concerned about our fans. This is a very inflammatory subject, a very serious subject. I think our fans know enough about the organization, that we have an extremely high moral standard, we try and bring in high character people. Our history suggests that. I’m not sure we’ve had one issue since the present administration was involved. It’s something we take very seriously. It’s my hope that fans get as accurate a portrayal of exactly what happened as possible, I hope they understand that there’s the world we live in with the quick rush to judgment – which again, is not to diminish a very, very serious issue – but at the end of the day I think people would agree that people deserve second chances. We’ve proven our track record is taking subjects seriously and doing our due diligence. It’s a terribly unfortunate background to it but that doesn’t take away that people feel strongly that Art Briles is a good person who deserves the opportunity to be a coach.

DE: Given the reaction, has there been any discussion about rescinding this decision?

SM: No. We didn’t enter into this today, this has been a topic of discussion for several weeks, collecting information and making a decision. This is about giving someone a second chance and we’re committed to doing that. For every reaction that you’re getting from social media and media, there’s a tremendous amount of support behind the scenes for a tough decision. I think a lot of people in this world, including myself, have made bad decisions and have regrets and I certainly feel strongly that in this case, Art Briles deserves a second opportunity.

DE: Baylor did find that Briles and the football administration was responsible for a culture that covered up alleged sexual assaults.

SM: I think there’s a plethora of information that is not necessarily in the public realm and I think it’s dangerous to comment on what’s out there because some of it might be accurate but a lot of it isn’t accurate as to what exactly occurred. We’ve done our due diligence from a legal perspective, we understand what the findings were and in many cases, those are different than what’s been discussed in the media.

I think our record speaks for itself in terms of making good decisions about people in this organization from an ethical and character standpoint and I think everybody should understand we’ve made the decision that Art Briles deserves a second chance and we hope that we’ll get the support from our fans to give a guy a second chance as well.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1521 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

76 Comments on Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell defends hiring of Art Briles

  1. So much for Diversity Is Strength. Mitchell & the Ti Cats are clueless.

    • Well said. I am in shock such a decision was made and sanctioned by the CFL.

    • Isn’t this “diversity in Strength” ? this guy was not charged with anything just allegations.
      But we are giving him a second chance !!

      • No, absolutely not. Briles covered things up. He covered things upso he’s complicit. Diversity Is Strength mean nothing to me as the words seem hollow. It’s just a clever marketing campaign to sell tee shirts to make the league money. Pretty shameful.

        • It was never said that Briles covered things up, nor was he charged with a cover up. People like you who turn the facts to suit your point of view are the dangerous ones

  2. Johnny Blumpkin // August 28, 2017 at 3:44 pm //

    What a disgusting response by Mitchell. Absolutely disgusting.

    • Oskee Wee Wee // August 28, 2017 at 3:48 pm //

      Hey Johnny Blumpkin, What does Blumpkin mean?

    • I agree Johnny. In my opinion only a group of men with no understanding of the issue of violence against women would under estimate the reaction of CFL fans everywhere, so badly. Tillman and the Briles both have to go NOW if the team and the league want to avoid a huge PR disaster and loss of sponsors. I for one will not support any of the sponsors of the CFL / Tiger Cats and I’ll help in any way I can to organize boycotts

  3. manny oliveira // August 28, 2017 at 3:47 pm //

    WOW! Enough said!

    • Bart Oates // August 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm //

      “that Art Briles a is a good man that was caught in a very bad situation.”

      You might as well say that about Hitler or Trump. All three were/are ringleaders. Scott Mitchell is a douche.

  4. Art Briles was fired by Baylor for his part in a culture that covered up sexual assaults. He sued the university for, presumably, unjustified dismissal, but withdrew that suit. Hence, in the eyes of the public, he is guilty of participating in that culture. Is that what Scott Mitchell wants as a culture for the Tiger Cats?

  5. Robyn Bobyn // August 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm //

    Weird how all the people he named as consultants were men.

  6. Wow. So, Mitchell’s response is “well, there’s stuff people don’t know about him, so he deserves a second chance”?

    Sorry, that and that “their record” on judging people is good. Uh.. Will Hill? Like in the last couple of weeks? Arland Bruce who went back after this team, among others?

    Problem people do indeed come up. But don’t kid a kidder, and don’t try to paper over the bad choices that the team has made, Mr. Mitchell. The record isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be. And this is a far bigger mistake than Hill and Bruce’s minor discipline issues combined.

  7. Ewdreadwords // August 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm //

    Too late Mitchell. Didn’t the CFL already agree is a league to have a zero-tolerance policy against violence directed at women? This contravenes that agreement. If the club refuses to let him go and continues to defend the hiring the commissioner should find them and band Him from the league based on the precedents ( nevermind fan response) alone.

  8. Lisa Morikawa // August 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm //

    This is more disappointing then the product on the field. It’s heartbreaking.

  9. cvmurrieta // August 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm //

    If Briles had been exonerated by Baylor, then why did the Baylor board still fire him?

    • Elwood Blues // August 28, 2017 at 10:31 pm //

      Baylor paid him ~ $20,000,000 to buy out his contract; if they had evidence to terminate him for cause, they would not have owed him a penny. He was just assumed guilty by association. Nothing was proven against him.

  10. Wow, so they’re digging in, and every one knew, including CFL HQ.

    Hugely disappointed.

    • To all the idiots defending this man, there were email and text messages found on his phone. He was aware. He was a man given the job of teaching young men. He was given a job to shape and mold these young men. Covering up rapes and sexual assaults is not what the parents of these boys had in mind when their kids went to Baylor. Shame on the CFL for its Diversity is Strength campaign which seems like nothing but a SHAM now. Does this dispicable person Art Briles have any daughters? Just because you’re off to an 0-8 start Hamilton doesn’t mean there is a need to overreact and bring in this guy. I have come to love the CFL because it’s a great product but this is leaving a bad taste in my mouth…The New Commissioner seems like a smart guy, I’m pretty he will make the right decision. And for you 5 people who will stop supporting the Ti-Cats sponsors because you are supporters of Art Briles, the sponsors don’t really want you anyways…good riddance.

  11. Second Chances? This man was part of an organization that decided sexual result wasn’t enough of a reason to inform authorties. Clearly these people care more about their paycheck rather than keeping kids safe.

    This is a decision that will never be accepted, and shouldn’t be accepted. We are always held accountable for our decisions, and the Tiger-Cats feel that blame shouldn’t include Art Briles. Ridiculous.

  12. Carlos Vazquez // August 28, 2017 at 4:02 pm //

    I’m glad Coach Briles will be getting another opportunity to do what he loves. He definitely deserves another opportunity.

  13. There’s 3 sides to every story unless you were involved stay out of it!

    • George Porge // August 28, 2017 at 4:44 pm //

      Stay out of a story that will have a very direct impact on the league’s image? Sure, okay. Sounds like a winning formula to me.

  14. Classic example of how not to handle communications in a crisis.

  15. When does this end.

  16. The Ticats also employ Eric Tillman, who was dismissed in Saskatchewan after he pleaded guilty to sexual assault involving a 16-year old minor. Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and the Ticats have form for this type of hire.

    The closest recent precedent for Briles’ actions are likely how Joe Paterno responded/failed to respond/covered up Jerry Sundusky’s child abuse at Penn State.

  17. Embarrassed to be a Ticats fan. More so than going the whole season winless. Pathetic. There are 8 other CFL teams and numerous university programs that are worthy of my time. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats… not so much anymore.

  18. I don’t want to give this guy a second chance to cover up rape in Canada. If they plan on keeping him, plan on losing fans. Rescind his offer, otherwise you’ve lost a life-long fan. There is enough evidence to say that we the fans are not just being quick to judge, anyone with logic can see he still played a hand in promoting a rape culture.

  19. I guess diversity in the CFL includes hiring coaches who among other things did not report the alleged gang rape of a student by their players and the Hamilton organization’s response is trust us that he is a good man. Second chances, yes, but what has this man ever done to show that he deserves one.

  20. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm //

    A once proud franchise now reduced to this.
    Bob Young. If you are not going to take your ownership seriously enough to put a decent organization together please do the great Hamilton fans a favour and sell. Under your ownership the product has been mediocre at best.

  21. Can we send this to the Command Centre for a review?

  22. Marvy Mum // August 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm //

    Very disappointed with this organization, and with the CFL for permitting this to go ahead. I think (hope) you will find that your fan base does not support this move. I would love to hear how the people in power justify this “second chance” hiring to their daughters.

  23. Eddy Rayner // August 28, 2017 at 4:29 pm //

    Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that we lowly fans do NOT have all the facts about this case. Nonetheless, how can the team NOT have seen the s$%& storm that was coming?! Perception is reality and this decision just shows how far removed from reality they are. You cannot tell me that there was not someone equally qualified but without the baggage. Ugh!!!

  24. What a dumb move by the Tiger Cats, especially at a time when fans are finding it hard to remain loyal. It reminds me of Donald Trump pardoning his sheriff buddy in Arizona. Great start for the June Jones era. I think the league should overturn the team’s immoral and misguided decision.

  25. Don Sutherland // August 28, 2017 at 4:45 pm //

    By the sound of this the whole damn front office in Hamilton needs replacing. They are above the Diversity is Strength idea. If the players decide they don’t want to play under a creep like Briles who would blame them. I would want a trade.

  26. Good for you Scott.

  27. Jim Harvie // August 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm //

    The guy who committed the rape is doing 20 years for it. The victim sued Baylor. Everybody ranting about this is laying on guilt by association. Don’t be surprised when your turn comes

  28. Mitchell’s rationalizations sound like the Ti-cats Place more value on the behind the scene back-pats they get from the good old boys for helping Briles rehab his career, than they do about what fans think.

    And while I don’t think the CFL should be some sort of second chance haven for moral reprobates, if I did give a second chance I would be inclined to give it to a 20-something year old athlete who made a poor choice, instead of a man pushing 60 who was trying to protect his six figure income and win-loss record.

  29. If you want the CFL taken seriously as a Pro league this is not the way to do it.

  30. I’m no longer a ticat fan been for 55 years with the hiring of Briles he is an enabler should be banned from coaching sponsors will leave players won’t come here such a sad situation. Go Argos Go on labor day fans should all cheer for Argos and boo loud for ticats sick sick sick

  31. I’m disappointed. Hamilton WAS a class organization. The CFL WAS a class organization. I guess the CFL Good Ole Boys network sack and refuse to allow Cox to play, which made pretty much everyone happy. He’s a black US man with domestic violence issues. But allow white Tillman and Briles to continue. Violence against women is tolerated by the CFL, I guess, if you’re white.

    • I think the players will have something to say about this! All the players in the league but most importantly the ticats players.They should just all refuse to play and I’m sure 90% of the true CFL fans will stand behind them. And the NFL will back it as well I’m sure.

  32. Go to the next home game. At the end of the anthem continue standing and turn our backs as a group. Face away from the sidelines until after the kickoff. Actions speak louder than words. Unconscionable decision Mr. Young

    • Tiger man // August 29, 2017 at 9:55 am //

      Meantime, you`re still putting money in the pockets of an organization that is obviously more concerned with the welfare of a coach than the many victims he left in his irresponsible wake.

      You want to send a message, stay home.

  33. Ouch!Again.

  34. You say the people behind the scenes are ok with this but it’s not those people you have to worry about. It’s the fans that you have to worry about. I think that the next Hamilton home game the fans should boycott. Show them that this is unacceptable.

  35. I would not attend the game period…empty stands and empty wallets from lost merch sales…gotta hit them in the pocket book…

  36. “Art was exonerated by his own university, he certainly had nothing to do with no criminal discussions or proceedings” ” I think it’s dangerous to comment on what’s out there because some of it might be accurate but a lot of it isn’t accurate as to what exactly occurred
    This being true, then why is everyone painting him as a bad guy?
    The ticats did their due diligence…. have all you that convict him with out all the facts….. or are you just basing your opinions on fake news???

  37. A bad move all around. The league doesn’t need this type of coach. We are above it. If he was not culpable he would have been hired by now. Obviously in this case, there is fire where there is smoke. I don’t see this helping the Cats a bit, and in fact may just be the ultimate undoing. Can you say 0-18. For this hiring it would look good on them.

  38. Bring back KA. He wouldn’t have hired this guy!!!!!

    What a bad move by an organization already in turmoil.

  39. Mr’s Young, Mitchell, Austin, and Jones – thank you for conducting a thorough backround check into this prior to the hire…. he’s a great coach and great man… it will pay dividends in the long run… please ignore the bleeding hearts and left wing….the man was never charged after investigations..he deserves a second chance. Kudos on the hire :)_ A Happy Fan!

  40. While this is disturbing, Tillman has a charge of sexual assault so it isn’t unprecedented wit the Cats. And as a Rider fan coping with the Chris Jones years I empathize with cat fans who fret when their team makes dumb decisions. Still – as CFL fans are we to believe that there is NOBODY else out there in the football world who can give them what Briles allegedly can? Did they really just hire him because he is June Jones’ buddy? By now the cats have realized this risk is already a bad one and will have to rescind the hiring soon. People are pissed off and rightly so.

  41. Sad Panda // August 28, 2017 at 6:55 pm //

    All anyone needs to know about Briles is he was Baylor’s best coach ever by a LONG shot and they STILL fired his him once their board heard all the information on what was going on. To say “there is stuff people don’t know about” as a defense is pathetic. Although, it shouldn’t come as a shock they have their heads in the sand considering they hired June Jones who flat out quit coaching on SMU his final few seasons there. The guy couldn’t even be bothered to leave his office to look for new recruits even though he was in a massive recruiting center in Dallas. He would only accept kids that sent him tapes of their play on their own. He is going to bilk Hamilton for an easy paycheck too.

    • Tiger man // August 29, 2017 at 8:15 am //

      If Briles is such a talented coach, why has he not found work in the one of the hundreds of NCAA football programs? Not in the NFL?

      What do they know that you don’t…or are ignoring???

      Makes me wonder just how diligently you checked this out Mitchell?

  42. HA1912GCC // August 28, 2017 at 6:58 pm //

    I have to wonder if Jones’ hiring was contingent on the Cats also hiring his buddy Briles. If the league or team decide to end Briles’ contract, will Jones also go? As a season ticket holder, I don’t even care now. Won’t bring my daughter or niece to any more games until this guy’s gone. Mitchell & Co. have really dug a hole for themselves.

    • Yeah good point, maybe Jones/Briles were a package deal. Huh. As a CFL fan I am disappointed but also have to wonder if they couldn’t have found other great candidates out there. How could the Cats not see how this would play?

  43. Why is Scott Mitchell even going here? Why do something that will create such backlash? They shouldve just found someone else.

    • Father of four daughters // August 28, 2017 at 9:16 pm //

      Briles , without a doubt, was a cheap hire. It’s not about “second chances” and more about “finance”

      I’m done with the CFL.

  44. Bye bye Scott Mitchell… bye bye Ticats. If the paying customer is not respected, don’t expect us to reciprocate. Soon to be an 8 team league… I was hoping for 10 teams. Bob Young, you now own an almost worthless sports entity. Oh, well.

  45. Tom Neillings // August 28, 2017 at 8:39 pm //

    If the Ticats and the league allow this man to coach here in Canada, then i think the fans should bring the BIG signs at any venue the Ticats play at and show their opinions what they think of this and get it on film. Post it to the Ticats, leagues and youtube sites and be heard. Film it yourselves because you know the league will tell TSN not to show this type of protest on live or in their news!!!

  46. Jack the Ripper // August 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm //

    I personally think this is a great hire Scott and Bob yours truly Jack the Ripper.

  47. Tillman and now this guy. Are the Ticats serious?
    Don’t think I will be renewing my tickets. How can I support this team and justify it with my wife and daughter. This is ridiculous

  48. Elwood Blues // August 28, 2017 at 10:36 pm //

    Wallow in your self-righteousness and faux moral outrage

  49. I don’t know the facts surrounding what happened at Baylor, nor do any of the rest of you… we are basing our opinions on media reports, nothing more. And we all know how inaccurate the media can be… truth doesn’t sell papers, salacious innuendo does…

    I have a personal friend who was falsely charged for a crime… the local media (The Spec) were all over the story because of the high profile of the person charged… after a thorough investigation my friend was found innocent and all charges were dropped, but typically The Spec did not report that… nor did they print a retraction… it wasn’t news worthy…. so in the court of public opinion, my friend was left painted as guilty… to this day I still have people comment about it, they believe he must be guilty… because they read it in the paper…

    Now I am not defending Briles, like I said I don’t know the facts, and I certainly get the PR need why Baylor had to fire him… somebody had to pay for the university allowing these despicable crimes for occurring…

    Is the rapist in prison? Yes. Is there a civil lawsuit pending? Yes. Was Briles exonerated, and does he deserve a second chance? Yes, I think so…

    However… if it doesn’t pass the smell test then I am usually very cautious… too bad the Ticats didn’t check the smell of this hiring…

    Just saying…

  50. Yeah, well, in cases like Briles, of course we base our opinions on accounts in the media. We base opinions on Hitler by accounts in the media, too. Anyone who bothers to read knows Briles is a criminal who valued winning over the safety of the women on the Baylor campus. He cultivated a culture of intimidation that empowered his players to rape young women without fear of law and made forthright young men afraid to help victims.
    Everyone involved with the hiring of Briles-at the team and the league-should be dismissed.

  51. All that matters now is BRILES — won’t be here in Hamilton. The idea that men who supposedly have the high moral standards of the team in mind -could even consider hiring him — a sad state — maybe time to clean house Mr Young.

  52. Tiger man // August 29, 2017 at 8:04 am //

    “I think there’s a plethora of information that is not necessarily in the public realm and I think it’s dangerous to comment on what’s out there because some of it might be accurate but a lot of it isn’t accurate as to what exactly occurred. We’ve done our due diligence from a legal perspective, we understand what the findings were and in many cases, those are different than what’s been discussed in the media.”

    Who did you talk to Mitchell? Briles drinking buddies?

    As Drew stated last night on the Fan, such trusted sources as the New York Times, Wall street Journal and ESPN conducted THEIR own investigation on this and came to a much different conclusion.
    And so did some of your sponsors. I guess you couldn’t con them either.

    Hamilton got a fire storm of criticism from ACROSS NORTH AMERICA. Not just Hamilton and across the league.

    Congratulations on the publicity, Bob. I guess the attention is what you were after.

    You got it.

  53. The Hamilton Tiiger Cats are the laughing stock of th CFL. I will be cancelling my season tickets today and lookigyk
    email bob Young directly about my disappointment over EVERYTHING this season. Cats won’t get another cent of my money

  54. Tiger man // August 29, 2017 at 10:34 am //

    And even after all the anger and criticism, Mitchell still defended this indefensible hire.

    He is either arrogant, deaf and/or blind, incapable of human compassion and empathy for the victims or just a typical CEO.

    Mitchell was ONLY concerned for his ego and NOT the welfare of the team and organization.

    Good choice, Bob.

  55. BleacherBum // August 29, 2017 at 11:40 am //

    Scott Mitchell should be fired for this. It should be the straw that broke the camel’s back given Mitchell’s track record. I know Bob Young wants a bulldog to run the team (because Bob is very nice) but Mitchell wore out his welcome a long time ago. The man has no tact.

  56. Dissin_terry // August 29, 2017 at 3:53 pm //

    Way to go Ti-cats! Just wouldn’t be the CFL if you didn’t turn yourself into the yearly embarrassment of the league.

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