By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist university, has decided to rescind the honorary degree it awarded to comedian Bill Cosby in 2003, saying on Friday “acts of interpersonal and sexual violence” run counter to the school’s values.
Baylor is one of several universities to cut ties with Cosby in the past year after more than 50 women have come forward with allegations against him, including drugging, sexual assault and rape.
Most of the incidents date back decades, putting them outside the statute of limitations for legal action. Cosby has denied the allegations.
“Baylor University is working to confront the scourge of interpersonal and sexual violence wherever it occurs,” the school said in a statement. Baylor’s Board of Regents made the decision on Thursday to rescind the doctor of humane letters.
The university, which prides itself on providing a Christian education, awarded the degree in 2003 when it was facing a crisis after one of the school’s men basketball players was arrested for murdering a teammate.
After that, the men’s team was rocked with charges of violating NCAA rules.
In September 2003 Cosby donned the university’s colors and put on a free performance for about 20,000 people in which he dispensed advice on dealing with loss that was peppered with jokes.
Troubles have returned to the school in the central Texas city of Waco this year when a Baylor football player was sentenced by a Texas judge in August to six months in jail and 10 years probation for sexually assaulting another student in 2013.
The school has faced criticism for trying to play down the incident and has started an independent investigation of how it managed the incident.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Bill Trott)
Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network’s 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson