Liberty University has been all over the headlines in 2016, and not for good reasons. It’s leader, Jerry Falwell, Jr., has been an ardent supporter of Donald J. Trump, a man who has lived anything but a Christian existence. Liberty’s student population has not been extremely happy with the leadership’s active role in promoting Trump, and the problem has been made worse by Falwell’s censorship of Trump criticism on Liberty’s campus.
However, that is not the only questionable decision Falwell has made recently. Liberty just announced that it has hired Ian McCaw to be its athletic director. This is big news for anyone who payed attention to McCaw’s last job as AD of a Christian university:
“My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference in Lynchburg.
McCaw is well acquainted with Christian athletics. In May, he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, another eminent Christian university. His departure followed a devastating investigation that found that the leaders of the football team and the athletic department had looked away when told of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault.
The Baylor scandal rocked the university, which, like Liberty, has boasted strong Christian morals on its campus. Falwell’s hiring of McCaw raised more student outrage, which Falwell responded to by saying the university totally checked him out and he’s good.
The hiring of McCaw has also proved contentious. As the university’sFacebook page filled up with angry comments, Falwell felt compelled to offer explanations on the university’s website. He said Liberty had conducted an “investigation.” It found that McCaw was a fine man. Far from being pushed out of Baylor, Falwell said, McCaw’s “decision to resign was his own choice.”
“If he made any mistakes at Baylor,” Falwell said — let us pause here to appreciate his use of the conditional — “they appear to be technical and unintentional.” There is not an athletic director in America, Falwell added, who better understands the importance of complying with federal guidelines on reporting any sexual assault on a campus.
What’s really going on here is Falwell seeing dollar signs. He saw them in Donald Trump and he sees them in McCaw, who oversaw tremendous atheltic growth, and raised a lot of money for Baylor because of it. This worship of gold and glory over God is incredibly disheartening to see in one of the biggest evangelical institutions in higher education, but at this point, it is not terribly surprising.