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Big 12 to withhold money from Baylor as it investigates sexual assault scandal

Baylor could lose millions of dollars as the Big 12 Conference works to make sure that the school has properly responded to its sexual assault scandal.

The inside of McLane Stadium at Baylor University

The Big 12 athletic conference announced Wednesday that it will withhold potentially millions of dollars from Baylor University until the school can prove that it has implemented reforms in response to its football team's sexual assault scandal. 

The conference said it will dock the private Christian university in Waco 25 percent of its annual payouts "until the proper execution of controls is independently verified."

That could be a major hit for the school. In 2015-16, the Big 12 Conference generated $304 million in revenue, which was shared by its 10 members. 

"By taking these actions the Board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems," said Big 12 Chairman David Boren, who is president of the University of Oklahoma. 

Baylor's Interim President David Garland called the news "an unexpected financial event" but said it won't "materially impact the overall financial position of the university."

Garland also reiterated what Baylor officials have said for months — that the university is taking dramatic steps to improve how it responds to allegations of sexual assault. Those include the removal of football coach Art Briles and university President Ken Starr, along with working toward 105 changes recommended by a law firm last year. 

"No other university in the country has responded as aggressively and decisively as Baylor regarding incidents of sexual assaults on its campus," Garland said in a statement. 

The Big 12 said it wants to conduct an independent review of Baylor's procedures. Once the conference decides that proper systems are in place, it will stop withholding payments, it said. 

Garland said he welcomes the review. 

"This third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses," he said. 

The scandal at Baylor came to light in August 2015, when football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of raping a fellow student. Since then, Baylor regents have said that 19 football players have been accused of rape since 2011. 

A lawsuit filed by one of the alleged victims against the school claims an even bigger problem — that 31 players committed 52 sexual assaults from 2011 to 2014. 

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