HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi will not be the setting for former Baylor coach Art Briles return to college football.
USM President Rodney Bennett and Interim Athletic Director Jeff Mitchell said in statement Wednesday morning that Briles would “not be a candidate” for a position on the staff of USM football coach Jay Hopson.
But Hopson had plenty to say in response in an e-mail first made public by college Hopson’s response was first made public in a tweet by Brett McMurphy.
“Although I respect the decision of Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it,” Hopson said. “I am so grateful for the grace and forgiveness God gives me, which allows me to inherit his Kingdom, which I do not deserve. I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position at Sothern Miss (and) believe he is a man who deserves a second chance. He is a man that seemed sincere and humble in his interview (and) personality. He committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol, but that would be my JOB at Southern Miss. He as interviewed for an assistant’s position, even though I believe he will be a head coach at a major program in the near future. However, I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance. He has been banned from employment in college football for three years and has been punished. I understand both sides have opinions. This is just mine. God Bless.”
Later Wednesday, Hopson said his sentiments hadn’t shifted.
“Those were my comments and I’m going to stand by them,” Hopson said. “But that’s me. I have to speak from my heart and I made a statement that I believe.
“So, the bottom line is, it is what it is.”
Hopson interviewed Briles on Monday, who then met with Bennett early Tuesday.
Briles was dismissed from Baylor in 2016 during an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by some of his players and has not worked since.
In a statement to @WatchStadium, Briles said “I appreciate the trust and support of Coach Hopson - I was informed by the Interim AD today, that the ongoing NCAA investigation with Baylor and me was the main issue (on not being hired at Southern Miss).
Bennett issued an e-mail Wednesday morning, restating the university’s policy on sexual misconduct that included among it’s final lines: “USM will not prioritize any goal above the safety of its students, nor will it knowingly allow for the integrity of the institution to be compromised.”
Hopson said he wouldn’t compromise on his beliefs and couldn’t worry about potential repercussions.
“No," Hopson said. “The bottom line is, I am who am I, and I have to believe what I believe. I have to be a man of conviction.”