Baylor University

Texas will have to look outside of the I-35 interstate to find its next head coach it seems.

Friday, amid much speculation about his possible interest in the Longhorns' job, Baylor head coach Art Briles released a statement maintaining his desire to stay as the Bears' head coach.

"I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions," Briles said. "As I've said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here. I look forward to leading the Bears onto the field next fall at McLane Stadium and defending our Big 12 championship that our players and coaches worked so hard to win this season."

Briles led Baylor to its first Big 12 championship and BCS bowl appearance this season, which included a win over Texas to secure the conference championship in each team’s regular season finale. Briles, a long-time Texas high school coach, recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Bears through 2023.

"There is tremendous excitement for our program's future, and I look forward to many more great seasons at Baylor," Briles said. "There is tremendous commitment from our University leadership, athletic administration, coaches and student-athletes - it truly is a great time to be a Baylor Bear."

President Barack Obama, officials promise recovery from West explosion

WACO — President Barack Obama told mourners to remember the 12 first responders killed in the explosion in West last week that the country stands with them to help restore their town.

“You are not alone, you are not forgotten,” Obama said speaking at Baylor University on Thursday. “We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too. We’re Americans, too. We’ll be there after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere. Your country will remain ever ready to help you recover and rebuild and reclaim your community.”

The explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant killed 14 people — including 12 first responders — injured over 200 and destroyed 142 homes and several buildings, including a nursing home and two schools.

12 flag-draped caskets laid before the stage at a memorial service in Ferrell Center at Baylor University, each with an accompanying portrait. Before the service, a screen above the stage played a photo montage of the responders set to music, including John Williams’ score to the 1978 movie, “Superman.”

Obama, who joined state and federal officials onstage at the memorial, said the volunteer responders showed courage and dedication to protecting their neighbors and community.

“The call went out to farmers and car salesmen and welders, funeral home directors, the city secretary and the mayor,” Obama said. “It went out to folks who were tough enough and selfless enough to put in a full day’s work and then be ready for more.”

Video eulogies played during the ceremony with family members and friends telling stories about their loved ones.

Gov. Rick Perry said he could offer no words to ease the pain the community has suffered but said the spirit that drove the first responders lives on.
“First responders know better than anyone there’s no such as a thing as a routine emergency,” Perry said. “The firefighters and medical technicians who died last week in West certainly knew that, but it didn't slow them down as they raced toward that burning factory.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the responders left a legacy of selflessness and courage that allowed them to face “overwhelming danger on behalf of their community.”

“When the call went out for help, these men — along with countless others in West — ran immediately toward the danger, not away from it,” Cornyn said. “They ran toward it looking for a way they might help. And though they were taken from us in a blast that shook the earth and shattered buildings, nothing will ever shake the memory of their heroism and their bravery.”

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, as well as men’s coach Scott Drew were reprimanded by the NCAA for a number of phone calls and text messages that were deemed violations. The NCAA has put the Bears on three years probation and will limit scholarships in coming years as well as recruiting visits.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WACO, Texas— The NCAA put Baylor on three years of probation Wednesday after an investigation turned up hundreds of impermissible telephone calls and text messages sent to prep recruits by coaches and assistants on the basketball teams.

The violations were considered to be major infractions, and they were announced less than a week after the Lady Bears won the national championship with the first 40-0 season in NCAA history.

Still, it could have been much worse for Baylor. All of the penalties were proposed by the school and accepted by the NCAA after a review of nearly 900,000 phone and text message records found that 738 texts and 528 calls were against the rules.

The NCAA said men’s coach Scott Drew failed to monitor his program and will be suspended for two Big 12 games next season, in addition to recruiting restrictions. Women’s coach Kim Mulkey also received recruiting restrictions.

“I believe strongly in following NCAA rules and will always try to do so in the future,” Mulkey said in a statement released by the school. “I do nothing without permission from our compliance office and will continue to ask questions to assure that things are done right. Any compliance-related mistakes, even those that are secondary, are disappointing. The majority of mistakes in this matter were errors in sending text messages and failure to accurately document our phone calls.”

The report put a bit of a damper on what has been an extraordinary run of success for Baylor athletics.

Besides Baylor’s win over Notre Dame for the women’s title, Drew’s team won a school-record 30 games and reached the NCAA regional finals, where the Bears lost to eventual national champion Kentucky. And all that came after star quarterback Robert Griffin III became the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner following a football season that included 10 wins for the first time since 1980.

Mulkey was named the AP’s national coach of the year and junior Brittney Griner was its player of the year. How Baylor recruited Griner, one of the most dominant women’s players in college basketball history, was reportedly part of the NCAA probe.

A school report obtained by said Mulkey and her staff committed minor NCAA violations for having impermissible contact with Griner and her family. During a 2007 camp, coaches spoke with the Griners about the basketball program, academic requirements and the school in general both before and after the camp.

Mulkey also reportedly broke NCA rules when she sat next to Griner’s father and discussed what the Baylor experience would be like. Brittney Griner, who is from the Houston area, played on the same AAU team as Mulkey’s daughter, Makenzie Robertson.

The NCAA report did not mention Griner or her family by name, though Mulkey addressed it in her statement.

“The other matters were related to my daughter’s participation in summer basketball,” she said. “While I am and will always be a mother first, I do recognize that there has to be a balance between my role as a mother of a prospect and my role as a head coach. I have always tried to strike that balance and appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate to the NCAA staff such balancing efforts dating back to when Makenzie was in the seventh grade. I am pleased that my efforts to find the appropriate balance between a mother and a coach were recognized.”

Griner said she had “made it clear to the NCAA staff and everyone else” that she had chosen Baylor early in the recruiting process.

Besides keeping Mulkey off the recruiting trail in July, Baylor said one of her assistants has been barred from making recruiting calls from January through April. The school also reduced its women’s basketball scholarships from 15 to 13 in 2011-12.

On the men’s side, Drew will miss the first two Big 12 games of the season, recruiting visits were trimmed and he lost a scholarship this past season and in 2012-13. In addition, a former coach faces a one-year “show cause” order that effectively prevents him from coaching at an NCAA school.

The assistant wasn’t identified, but reported in October 2010 that the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of Hanner Perea. The report said assistant Mark Morefield sent dozens of texts to Perea’s AAU and high school coaches and urged two of them to provide false and misleading information to the NCAA about a series of text messages. Morefield resigned in July 2011.

“I sincerely apologize to Baylor University and Baylor Nation,” Morefield said in statement released by his lawyer. “I learned a very valuable lesson in this case. In my 13 years of coaching at NCAA institutions, I have not intentionally violated NCAA rules. I will grow from this experience with a better understanding of NCAA rules.”

The NCAA violations come nine years after Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was found shot to death after he had been missing for six weeks. Teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty to murder. The ensuing investigation uncovered NCAA violations, illegal tuition payments and unreported failed drug tests that led to the resignation of coach Dave Bliss, who was secretly recorded by an assistant coach of trying to persuade others to cover up misdeeds by portraying Dennehy as a drug dealer.

Athletic director Ian McCaw said the school has made “significant investments in compliance staffing and infrastructure” since the investigation began.

Drew said he took full responsibility for the violations, saying many were simply the result of improperly logging or failing to log calls to recruits. He noted that the school has a new software tracking system to assist coaches with the logistics.

“I came to Baylor in 2003 to do a job: rebuild a program decimated by very serious NCAA rules violations and tragedy,” he said. “I promised to rebuild the program in a way Baylor could be proud-morally, academically and, finally, athletically, and we continue on that journey today.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Given its history, who would have thought a Heisman candidate would come out of Baylor University? Not many, but Robert Griffin III is forcing people to take notice of the Bears and take a long look at Griffin’s Heisman resume.

Griffin’s season looks like it has come out of a video game on rookie-mode, with the insane numbers he has put up thus far. He has 3678 yards passing and 34 touchdowns on only four interceptions. Couple that with his 4.3 second 40 track speed when he scrambles out of the pocket, and Griffin is the ultimate defensive nightmare.

Mack Brown gives Griffin perhaps the highest praise possible when he compares him to a pair of Texas legends.

“I would compare him to what Colt and Vince did for us because when you got the guy under the center that we have to try to stop, he is the dominant player they have,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.

“He is the focal point. He’s their confidence. He’s their heartbeat. When he walks in that huddle they all believe that they’re going to win the game.”

That’s lofty praise for a quarterback who’s career up until this season has been defined by a major injury, rather than for his ability to make magic happen on the field.

Griffin missed the majority of the 2009 season after tearing his ACL in a game against Northwestern State. He was granted a medical redshirt after the year and came back in 2010 as a sophomore once again. He had a good season passing--he threw for 3501 yards--but showed only flashes that would indicate the elite level of play he has displayed this year.

Griffin worked hard this offseason to improve his passing ability, and it has paid off. He now stands in the pocket and zips the ball around the field on par with the best quarterbacks in the country.

“He’s a much more complete passer,” said Texas senior Emmanuel Acho. "I don’t think people give him enough credit for how good a thrower he is. That’s something that we are not taking lightly.”

That ability to be a deadly accurate passer, and the speed he has to make plays like Chris Johnson when he pulls the ball down and runs with it, have people talking that Griffin could be a top 5 pick, or even a challenger to Andrew Luck, for the No. 1 overall spot.

But that’s in the future, for now he has his eyes towards Texas, and helping Baylor finish what is perhaps the best season in school history. One thing could stand in the way of that though, another injury. Griffin was hurt last week in Baylor’s game against Texas Tech, where a huge hit knocked him out of the second half of the matchup, but it will take more than that to keep RG3 off the field for back to back weeks.

“He is cleared,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles. “He is 100 percent ready to go.”

Baylor will be competing for a top bowl game spot and as high as a second place finish in the Big 12. But as important as team accomplishments are, all eyes will be on Griffin and his performance, in his last shot to impress the Heisman voters.

“Being on the national stage, being on ABC certainly helps, playing a team the caliber of Texas, with the national recognition that they have certainly helps the cause,” Briles said of Griffin’s Heisman chances.

Though, Briles is quick to praise Griffin for his team-first attitude and notes that Griffin would trade a Heisman for another win any day.

“Robert will be the first to sit here and tell you that if he throws eight passes and completes two and we win the football game, he is going to be extremely happy. That is the way Robert is. He is team first. Big we, little me is the way I like to put it. He is team first all of the way.”

Griffin is incredible though, and it is almost 100 percent likely that if the Bears come away with a win this Saturday, it will be because of an outstanding individual performance from their star.

The Longhorns’ knows who it needs to contain in order to come away with a victory when they head up I-35 this weekend. They also know what will happen if he runs wild on them, because they may be appearing in a certain highlight reel in the “Big Apple”.

“If we don’t play well, we’ll end up on all the highlight shows, and we’d rather not do that. We don’t want to go to New York,” said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

To help pre-med, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy students make themselves more attractive to professional schools, the Senate of College Councils has proposed a certification in the humanities, said Senate communcations director Michael Morton.

Support for a medical humanities certificate program was signed by the Senate at its Nov. 10 general assembly in an effort to increase the rate of pre-med students being accepted to medical professional schools. UT already offers many of the courses that would be required for the certificate, including Sociology of Health and Illness, Philosophy of Mind and Body and Global Health.

“There will not be an increase in tuition because they are based off of courses already taught,” Morton said. “It is essentially drawing from different courses from UT and designed to fit students’ needs.”

Morton said the new program wouldn’t affect teachers, but might instead fill up empty seats. Baylor University, the University of Missouri and the University of South Carolina currently offer humanities certificates for pre-med students.

According to the Senate’s numbers, 58 percent of the 658 UT graduates who applied to medical school in 2009 were accepted and 47.8 percent of the 119 who applied to dental school were accepted. Morton said the Senate hopes the new program will help UT get closer to Baylor’s rate of acceptance, which is typically between 60 and 65 percent of about 130 students for medical school and 70 percent of about 20 students for dental school.

“Baylor has a much higher rate going into medical school, so we’re hoping [the rate at] UT will also increase,” Morton said. “Anyone entering the health profession should practice the humanities, dealing with people and communicating.”

Cell and molecular biology graduate student Kacie Gardella said she would have liked to have taken more than the two courses in the humanities she remembers taking as an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University.

“They were okay, but you’d just want to get them out of the way,” Gardella said. “Its good to not stick to only biology. Medical schools want to see the character.”

Biology professor Michael Singer said he went through college on the extreme opposite of what the Senate’s program proposes. Having attended Oxford, he said the English education system only allowed him to
study zoology.

“I certainly would have liked to have learned humanities,” Singer said. “I was educated at Oxford and it was too narrow.”

Co-chair of the Senate’s curriculum committee, Josh Fjelstul, said meetings with administrators and deans of colleges could result in the implementation of the plan.

“We hope to see this certificate program implemented as soon as possible,” Fjelstul said. “We hope that this certificate program will help UT students interested in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and social work to differentiate themselves as they apply to professional schools and [look] for jobs.” 

 As children, their parents dressed them in identical outfits and for 18 years they shared a bedroom. But now the Kent quadruplets have turned into young women whose life journey has landed them at East Texas Baptist University where they are embarking on individual paths — together.

“I’m looking forward to just growing while I’m in college,” Kinsey Kent said. “Since we aren’t together as much, we have the opportunity to grow as individuals.”

Kinsey, Kaitlyn, Klaire and Karson Kent enrolled at East Texas Baptist University this fall. Their older sister, Kallie, is a junior at the university and was an influence in the quadruplets choosing ETBU instead of their parents’ alma mater, Baylor University.

“Our older sister came here and she fell in love with it,” Kinsey said.

The quadruplets came to stay with their older sister and found how welcoming people were at the university.

“We fell in love with campus, too,” Klaire said. “It’s a really great place to learn and to grow.”

“And we all four felt God wanted us to be here,” Kinsey said.

At their home in Mount Pleasant, the Kent quadruplets shared one big, open bedroom that had four beds. In high school, they had some of the same classes and shared friends. Now, they are living separately, have different majors and are making their own friends.

“This is the first time we have ever been separate,” Kinsey said.

While Klaire noted she was excited to start college and meet new people, she said she was also “really sad to leave home because that’s all we’d known.”

Born Feb. 4, 1993, to Kevin and Jill Kent, the girls spent much of their childhood in matching outfits — which at times drove them crazy, but helped their mom keep track of them — and were grouped together a lot.

“You always had somebody there with you,” Kaitlyn said.

“You always had a friend,” Kinsey added.

As for the matching outfits, they still happen occasionally.

On the first day of class at ETBU, Kaitlyn and Karson had a class together and decided to walk to the room together.

“We were wearing almost the exact same outfit on the first day of class without seeing each other, without planning it,” Kaitlyn said. “Our teacher even commented on it, and he didn’t know we were sisters.”

The girls favor each other, but are by no means identical. They also developed individual personalities that make them fairly easy to tell apart.

Kaitlyn is quiet, shy, studious and hardworking, according to sister Kinsey who described herself as being more sporty, athletic and quicker to make friends. Klaire is “the cheerleader” and always happy and goofy, according to her sisters, while Karson is the peacemaker of the group.

Kaitlyn and Karson are majoring in business; Kinsey is majoring in political science; and Klaire is majoring in
speech communication.

“I’m just excited to see what happens,” Klaire said. “I don’t really know what I’m going to do with my life and that’s going to be a fun journey."

Meanwhile, older sister Kallie is showing them the ropes at the university, and the girls still get together at campus events, to have dinner together and simply to hang out.

“She’s a good older sister,” Kinsey said. “She says she’s happy that we’re here.”

But even with their sister here, Kinsey said she was nervous to move away from home and away from her parents.

“We know how we live together. We’re having to learn how to live with somebody new,” she said.

Because the girls do know how to live together, Kaitlyn said it was a benefit because they’re already used to roommates.

“We know what it’s like to share,” she said.

They still plan to go home regularly to visit their family.

“They’re excited that we’re here,” Kinsey said.

“I know our mom has been sad. To go from having four children at home to none is hard for her, but she is glad we’re here.”

Life at the university is providing a similar support to the girls that they had growing up.

“Our faith has been important to us throughout our whole life,” Kinsey said. “Being a quadruplet, you always had a built-in accountability. You always had support. ETBU is giving us that accountability and support in a different way. It’s good to be here.”