Jeff Lebby apologizes for Art Briles’ appearance, saying it won’t happen again

Jeff Lebby apologizes for Art Briles’ appearance, saying it won’t happen again

Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby opened his press conference with a prepared statement Monday , two days after Briles appeared on the field after OU’s 28-11 win over SMU. Briles, the disgraced former Baylor coach, is Lebby’s father-in-law.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Sep 11, 2023, 12:13pm CDT

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Sep 11, 2023, 12:13pm CDT

NORMAN — Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby apologized Monday morning for the distraction that emerged Saturday night when Art Briles, Lebby’s father-in-the-law and the disgraced former Baylor coach, appeared on Owen Field.

“I just want everybody to understand my father-in-law, his presence on the field after the game the other night is something that created a distraction and I do apologize for that,” Lebby said in a prepared statement. “That was not the intent at all. The intent was just to celebrate with my family.

“I do want to correct some reports that claimed he had a sideline pass. There was not a sideline pass given out. He was actually only on the field when other families were down there and were present.”

Joe Castiglione and coach Venables both have addressed concerns with me,” he concluded. “They’ve talked to me about it. And again can make sure that everybody understands that this is something that will not happen again.”

Lebby was asked a pair of follow-up questions, but declined to answer on both.

“I’m not going to comment anymore on it,” he said. 

Lebby’s comments came less than 48 hours after Briles was spotted on the field alongside Lebby and other family members in a red, OU long-sleeve t-shirt in the minutes after the Sooners’ 28-11 win over SMU.

 

 

Briles was fired at Baylor in 2016 in the wake of sexual assault scandal that unfolded on the campus in Waco, Texas, while he led the Bears to two Big 12 titles from 2008-2015. Lebby, an assistant throughout Briles’ tenure at Baylor, was later named in a lawsuit alleging he took no action after learning of a series of physical assaults by former Bears running back Devin Chafin. 

Sooners coach Brent Venables told reporters that he became aware of Briles’ presence shortly after the game Saturday. 

“I was made aware just before I came in here that he was (here) and I think that’s being dealt with, and already has been,” Venables said.

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione released the following statement late Saturday: 

“I was just as disappointed as many of our fans when I learned of the postgame situation tonight. It shouldn’t have happened and it was my expectation it never would, based on boundaries we previously set. I’ve addressed it with the appropriate staff.”

Since his dismissal from Baylor, Briles has coached in semi-professional football in Italy and at Texas’ Mount Vernon High School but has not returned to the college ranks. He was hired as the offensive coordinator at Grambling State in Feb. 2022 but resigned four days later amid public pressure.

Upon Lebby’s arrival on Venables’ staff in Dec. 2021, Castilgione released a statement highlighting the vetting process behind Lebby’s hiring and “OU’s expectations of him both on and off the field.”

“My experiences at Baylor will inform my perspective for the rest of my life, on and off the field,” Lebby wrote in a separate statement at the time.

Lebby was brief Saturday night when pressed on Briles’ appearance during his postgame press conference. 

“That’s my father-in-law,” he said. “He’s my father-in-law. That’s the grandfather to my two kids. So he was down with our entire family after the game, well after the game.”

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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