ARLINGTON, Texas - When academics teach crisis management to students in the future and they use Baylor as an example, which they will, they should reach one inescapable conclusion.
The biggest mistake Baylor administrators made in dealing with the sexual assault claims at the school is that it failed to put the needs of the student ahead of the perception and PR of the school.
The brand of a school is not a logo. The brand of the school is not a new business building, or a fun on-campus football game. The brand of the school is not an obscure English professor. The brand of a school isn't a dorm, or the campus recreation center.
All of these details enhance it but the actual brand of a school is the kid who attends it. They are the real stewards of the university. They are the brand. The kid is the No. 1 priority, because they are the reason the school exists in the first place.
Every school president, board of regent member and high ranking administrator who deals with such scenarios in the future, which they will, should learn from Baylor's unintentional mistakes. Never make a decision out of panic.
Never forget who you serve: the students. They are the future of your school, and the actual customers.
The perception of the school and PR of the school is the kid. If the kid leaves your university with a degree, and a lifetime of positives experiences, there is no greater advertising tool.
Being good in football and men's basketball are proven great advertising tools, and they sure are a lot of fun, but nothing will ever beat word of mouth.
Nothing beats the kid who matures into the adult who can't find enough dictionaries for the words to describe their life-altering experience in college. The alum who gives back, and encourages everyone within ear shot to attend and support their alma mater.
Baylor tackle Sam Tecklenburg is one of the last players at Baylor who was recruited by Art Briles. He has seen all of it.
"Things are really different," Tecklenburg said at Big 12 Media Days. "So many players have come in and come out. It's a totally different team than when I was a freshman, personnel wise. ... The guys I came in with a lot of that class is still here. It's been a roller coaster for a lot of us, but it's certainly been worth it. We have enjoyed the journey."
You have free articles remaining.
Hard to beat that answer. He gets it.
"I do think people view us as a representation of the university," he said. "When people talk to me, I represent Baylor. Any player, in a way, represents the university more than a student would just because of the platform we are on. But I think people love that. We have a lot of great guys on the team, and we love to get out there and show what people are really about."
He's right, of course.
But every student who attends their respective university represents their school. The platform is not as big as the college football player, but the message is the same.
Protect the messenger, regardless of their platform at your school.
Baylor is happy with its new football coach, Art Briles has a new job in Texas, albeit in high school, and the NCAA can't make up its mind on what to do with the school.
The investigation into Baylor's athletic department continues to drag; sources indicate a process that should have been done by June hasn't even gone into the hearing stage between the school and the NCAA.
Per sources, the process of disclosing all of the necessary information, or at least what the NCAA wants, continues to take for forever.
The sporting public doesn't seem to care much anyways.
Regardless of whatever punishment, if there is one, the NCAA levies against Baylor, the greater lesson for every school is easily visible, and readily available: There is nothing bigger than your brand than the kid, for the kid is the brand of every school and athletic department.
Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com