Art Briles, who coached Stephenville High School to four state football championships in the 1990s, is returning to the high school ranks this fall after being hired on Friday to coach Class 3A, Division I Mount Vernon High School, according to the Associated Press and multiple other sources.
A news release from Mount Vernon, posted on Twitter by Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, states that the school's board of trustees approved a two-year contract for Briles, whose last coaching job was at Baylor.
The Associated Press quoted a statement from Briles as saying, “High school football is a Texas institution. As a coach, it's my first love. You'll make no bigger impact in this world than when you shape the lives of young people — one practice, one game, and one life at a time. I am excited to be coaching at Mount Vernon this fall.”
The AP story also included a statement from Mount Vernon ISD Superintendent Jason McCullough that said, “We are pleased to welcome Coach Briles back home to Texas. He brings with him a wealth of not only football experience but also life experience. He is passionate about investing in the lives of young people and helping them to succeed both on the field and in life. After a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”
Briles started coaching a team based in Florence, Italy — playing American-style football — in March.
Briles was Stephenville’s head coach for 12 seasons (1988-1989). His Yellow Jackets made the playoffs 11 consecutive years after a 4-5 record his first season.
He had a record of 136 wins, 29 losses and 2 ties — for a winning percentage of .820. Briles’ SHS teams won back-to-back state championships in 1993-1994 and 1998-1999.
Mount Vernon’s Tigers had a 9-4 football record last season under former coach Josh Finney, who left the school to take a coaching job in Winnsboro, according to Susan Reeves, publisher of the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald. The Tigers reached the third round of the playoffs in 1998 before losing to Atlanta.
Reeves said that Briles, who is 63, was not in Mount Vernon last week because he is finishing up his football duties in Italy. She said that Briles’ team in Italy is in the playoffs there, and she expects that Briles may arrive in Mount Vernon in June.
Mount Vernon High School had its graduation on Friday. A voice mail message to the school was not returned as of press time.
Briles had a record of 65-37 in eight seasons as head coach at Baylor. Before that, he was the head coach at the University of Houston from 2003-2007, with a 34-28 record.
Briles was fired by Baylor as head coach there three years ago during the sexual assault scandal at that university. The Associated Press reported that the firing came after an external investigation showed in May 2016 that Baylor had “for years mishandled numerous sexual assault allegations by students, including some against football players.”
The AP story noted that at least 17 women reported being sexually assaulted by 19 football players.
Briles has insisted he did not cover up reports of assaults by players, and that he encouraged women involved in the alleged incidents to go to the police, according to the AP. Baylor is still waiting for the outcome of an NCAA investigation into the school’s conduct.