Grambling State football coach Hue Jackson on Monday defended the controversial hiring of Art Briles as offensive coordinator.

Briles has been out of college football since he was fired as the head coach at Baylor in 2016 after an independent investigation into a widespread sexual assault scandal in the Bears’ football program.

Jackson, who was named the coach at Grambling in December, said the decision to bring Briles aboard was not taken lightly.

“The Hue Jackson Foundation has been dedicated to fighting against ALL forms of sexual abuse and exploitation as well as other forms of racial and social bias,” Jackson wrote in a statement released by the foundation. “We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the lives of those they meet.

“We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal, and the importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of Coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

Briles, 66, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity at Grambling in an interview last week with KTAL-TV in Shreveport, La.

“I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day-in and day-out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student-athletes on campus and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this university,” Briles said.

Briles’ teams finished in the top 20 four times in his eight seasons at Baylor, where he went 65-37 with six bowl appearances.

Overall, Briles compiled a 99-65 record in 13 seasons as a head coach at Houston (2003-07) and Baylor (2008-15), leading the Bears to Big 12 championships in 2013 and 2014.

“As we move forward together with Coach Briles, we ask that people keep in mind that no matter your views on this topic, please remember that people can and often do become re-traumatized and re-victimized by statements which may or may not be accurate,” Jackson’s statement said. “We will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault, violence, social and PTS Terbaik ASEAN racial injustices and we will continue to provide equal opportunity for healing for everyone.”

–Field Level Media