Baylor’s football program has had quite the fall from grace. After what were honestly too many incidents of physical and sexual abuse of women at the hands of football players to count, coach Art Briles and university president Ken Starr were ousted. The school’s continual efforts to deflect accountability have arguably contributed to its institutional failures constantly remaining in the news.
And now there is yet another embarrassing incident involving the program. Associate Athletic Director Heath Nielsen — who is 47 years old, has worked at the school for 17 years and has a job description indicating he “is responsible for management of the public image of the [football] program” — was arrested on Nov. 8 after an incident following Baylor’s Nov. 5 loss to TCU. Nielsen was charged with assault with bodily injury after allegedly grabbing a sportswriter named James McBride, who works for a local community paper called The Blaze News, by the throat.
The victim, James McBride had received permission from a football player to take a photograph, and after the picture was taken “Nielsen walked up to McBride on the right, grabbed McBride by the throat with his right hand, squeezed and pushed him away from the football player,” an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KWTX says.
When McBride and the player asked Nielsen what the problem was, he replied, “He’s abusing his privileges,” the affidavit said. “McBride had visible scratches and complained of pain around his throat.”
The photographs of McBride’s neck are included in KWTX’s story. McBride believed Nielsen was upset over unflattering videos McBride had posted on YouTube. The local CBS affiliate further reports:
Right after the incident, McBride said, Nielsen told him, “You’ll never f****** work in this business again. You’re abusing your privileges on the field.”
A spokesperson for the newspaper said stadium cameras recorded the incident. McBride said he hasn’t decided on a course of action, but says he thinks Nielsen should “lose his job hands down,” and said he wants a handwritten apology from Nielsen.
Even before this alleged incident, it’s ponder-worthy how someone whose job involved maintaining the image of Baylor’s football program still had one.