The Baylor football program is once again in the news for an off-field incident, and once again it isn’t positive. Associate athletic director Heath Nielsen has been charged with assault with bodily injury, this after he reportedly grabbed a sportswriter, James McBride, by the throat and pushed him away from a football player who he had just taken a picture of following the Bears’ 62-22 loss to TCU on Nov. 5.
The hits, quite literally, just keep on coming for Baylor.
“The funny story is I’ve dealt with Heath Nielsen in the past,” CBSSports.com college football writer Ben Kercheval said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He’s never grabbed me by the throat, so I’ve never had that happen to me with Heath. Worst thing he ever did was deny me access for an interview. But this guy, the reporter, he works for a site called Mustard Slinger Sports, which I’ve never heard of, and from the sounds of it, he’s trying to take a selfie with a player, which tells you everything you need to know about his professionalism and whether he should have been credentials or not. But whatever he and Heath had seems to be a prior thing, and I don’t think it’s necessarily anything related to national coverage of the program as far as this rape scandal is concerned. So look, I don’t know the details other than what the report says. Apparently there’s video of it. I’d be fascinated to see it.”
Nielsen, 47, was jailed for his actions but is free on bond.
It was yet another embarrassment for a program that was rocked by a sexual-assault scandal in the offseason.
“I’ll just say this for Baylor: it has been a house of cards program,” Kercheval said. “This was a university and a program that just a few years ago had a national, meteoritic rise in the ranks. New-money program, comes out of the basement and just completely takes college football by storm. They’re different, they’re sort of this Oregon of the Southwest, and then all of a sudden all of these allegations and stories start coming out dating back to last fall with Sam Ukwuachu. And man, this thing has crumbled faster and easier than I think a lot of people would have predicted just from the top man, Ken Starr, all the way down to how they deal with media people. This thing is just a total house of cards.”
Baylor (6-4) plays Texas Tech (4-7) this Friday at AT&T Stadium at 6 p.m. ET. The Bears have lost four straight, including their last three by a combined 82 points.