The owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats says the CFL team made a “large and serious mistake” in hiring Art Briles as assistant head coach.
Biles was let go as football coach at Baylor University in Texas in 2015 after officials determined multiple allegations of sexual assault against players, including an alleged gang rape, had been mishandled by the football department.
In a statement Tuesday morning, team owner Bob Young apologized to fans.
“We made a large and serious mistake,” he wrote.
“We want to apologize to our fans, corporate partners and the Canadian Football League. It has been a difficult season and we are searching for answers. This is clearly not one of them.
“We have listened, we are reviewing our decision-making processes and we will learn. We will go on. We want to thank our fans, partners and the CFL for their help and support.”
Young followed up with a tweet afterward, saying, “We should not have been surprised by the reaction.”
CEO Scott Mitchell had a similar sentiment speaking with reporters Tuesday morning.
“When you make a mistake like this … there are lessons to be learned,” he said.
He also said he didn’t expect the backlash against the hiring of Briles to be as strong as it was.
“I think that when we took a step back and had a chance to talk to the league and to some of our partners and some of our fans, what we thought was an opportunity to give somebody a second chance was clearly not acceptable in relation to what had previously happened and what he had previously been involved with,” Mitchell said.
The team faced widespread fan and social media backlash after announcing it hired Briles late Monday morning.
Team CEO Scott Mitchell told the Hamilton Spectator that Briles was a “good man” and the Tiger-Cats felt he deserved another chance.
But shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday, the team and CFL jointly issued a statement saying Briles was out.
“Art Briles will no longer be joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a coach,” it read.
Fans of the winless Tiger-Cats had lashed out at the football team after it announced Briles as an assistant offensive head coach.
An advertiser with the team also called for the Tiger-Cats to immediately fire Briles.