• How Baylor’s football coach describes his job is one example of how things are changing at BU

    Matt Rhule

    In a recent interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, new Baylor President Linda Livingstone was asked how the university can ever move forward after what happened here. “The university is a different place than it was a few years back,” she replied.”[Now] people have to see concretely that situations, the culture, the behavior has changed. That is happening, and we will continue to tell that story. Over time it will make a difference.”

    Our post earlier this week ran through a bunch of the concrete changes Baylor has made to better prevent and respond to sexual violence. Another example of how the culture is already changing is the way university leaders — Dr. Livingstone, Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades, head football coach Matt Rhule, and others — talk about the purpose of athletics. For instance, here’s how Rhule described his approach at a recent Baylor Alumni Network event:

    “My job is to raise men, to build men, to teach the 120 young guys on our team. The football is fun; the football, the kids are good at. We’re here to try to raise these kids into men, one man at a time. We’re living in a time and age where so many of the kids on our roster don’t know what it means to be a man. So many of the kids on our team have never seen it, or they have the wrong picture of it. And even the ones who do — like, I fight for my son, my own son, every single day, because the world we’re living in is telling them all these other things are what a man is. They don’t tell them any more that getting up early, working hard, and being honest — they don’t tell them that’s being a man any more. It’s what you drive, what you wear. And it’s our job to make sure that when they leave our program, they know what a man is. If they didn’t have a father, if they’ve never seen what it means to be a father, they’re gonna know it when they leave our program. …

    “We’re trying to raise this program and raise this team and raise these kids one man at a time. See, a man knows how to submit himself, to respect authority. A man knows how to stand up to injustice, no matter how popular or unpopular it is. A man knows how to question himself and question things around him. A man knows what it’s like to be honest and accountable and live a life of integrity. And most importantly, a man — a true man — knows what it means to protect those who are weaker than he is. And that’s what we’re all trying to do. None of us are perfect men, but we’re sure trying to be. …

    “We can be a Baptist university, and we certainly are. And we can be a university that believes in faith, service and leadership. But it had better be present in everything that we do. For so many of our kids, we’re the only glimpse of Christ that they’ll ever see. And I’m such an imperfect man. But you know what? I am, and my coaches are, the only chance some guys have to understand what it means to truly understand the love and the grace of God. So that’s what we’re here to do.”

    At another recent Baylor event, Rhule talked about how he tries to teach his student-athletes the difference between their passion and their purpose in life:

    Purpose + PassionPreparing champions for life at Baylor.

    Posted by Baylor Athletics on Monday, May 22, 2017

    Speaking with ESPN recently, he was even more direct about how he teaches his student-athletes to treat women:

    “I think one thing I’ll say — and I feel very passionately about this — is so often football coaches say, ‘Of course, I’m against rape. I have two young girls.’ To me, it’s not just the fact that I have girls in my life is why I don’t believe in rape. When you communicate like that with football players or any young people, they begin, in my mind, to differentiate between women they know and love and women who they don’t know, and then they don’t place any value on them.

    “We talk about what it means to be a man, and a major part of that is not just how to treat your mom, but how to treat all women, the way to be respectful to all women, how to look at women, how to speak to women and how to treat women each and every day.”

    Rhule’s message has been consistent (both previously at Temple and now at Baylor), and people around the nation are starting to take note. (For example, see this CBS Sports article, titled “Matt Rhule’s views on fixing sexual assault culture make him the perfect fit for Baylor”, and this Houston Chronicle column, titled “Matt Rhule’s words prove Baylor finally on right path.”)

    Earlier this spring, we described Rhule’s approach as “refreshing.” Hearing and reading his words above, that still applies. This is the kind of approach we need to have, and who we need to be, as a university, if we are to continue to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”

    Sic ’em, Coach Rhule!

    [If you didn’t get to see Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades and head football coach Matt Rhule on one of their “Texas Football Tour” stops earlier this month, it’s not too late; there are still stops planned for Dallas and Houston in July.]

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