University of Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne was mentioned Sunday in a lengthy ESPN investigative report on the relationship between a student-athlete and her assistant track coach at the University of Arizona during Byrne’s tenure as the athletic director in Tucson.
The investigative report was aired by ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”
The relationship has resulted in both criminal charges against the assistant coach and a civil suit alleging that Arizona failed to protect the student-athlete from rape, harassment and other threats. Byrne is included as a defendant in a civil suit filed by the athlete, Baillie Gibson, in October of 2015.
Gibson was involved in a sexual relationship with Arizona assistant track coach Craig Carter, one that Carter contends was consensual. Gibson maintains that she was coerced into the relationship by death threats and other threats of violence, including rape. There were further threatening communications when Gibson sought to end the relationship, including an email obtained by ESPN in which Carter threatens to rape and kill Gibson’s mother. Carter has been indicted by a Arizona grand jury on four felony counts, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and stalking. He is free on a $40,000 bond while awaiting trial.
The 2015 civil suit filed by Gibson under the name “Jane Doe” alleges that Carter, Byrne (in his role as athletics director), head coach Fred Harvey, the University of Arizona and its board of regents and the state failed to protect Gibson from “acts of rape, assault, inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse.”
A University of Alabama spokesperson told The Tuscaloosa News that Byrne could not comment on any aspect of the case due to the ongoing litigation.
The University of Arizona released an official statement to ESPN arguing that officials had acted in accordance with that school’s guidelines.
“As soon as the student athlete informed us of Carter’s actions, we immediately turned that information over to law enforcement and suspended him,” the statement said. “University staff then worked with the student and her advocate on accommodations for her education and well-being. Based on the information it received, the athletics department began the termination process against Carter, who resigned his position during that process.
“The UA athletics staff were shocked and horrified when they were informed of Carter’s actions towards a valued member of the Track and Field family,” the statement continued. “The University and the athletics department condemn his behavior and the impact it had on the student.”
ESPN also noted that Byrne had been in contact with University of Arizona attorneys before meeting with Carter and immediately reported information to that school’s Office of Institutional Equity, which oversees Arizona’s Title IX compliance. That office then took over the investigation.
The ESPN report was written by investigative reporters John Barr and Nicole Noren.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.