The Baylor Lariat was officially begun in 1900 as The Varsity Lariat; it was formed out of a realization that "a high grade weekly was desired" to keep students, faculty, and alumni aware of campus events and news (including news from nearby colleges). The Lariat replaced The Baylor Weekly Leaf, whose editor was credited in the Lariat's first issue with "taking the initiative" of reporting Baylor news.
On February 27, 2004, The Baylor Lariat published an editorial in support of San Francisco's offering of marriage licenses to gay couples. The piece, which was supported by five of the editorial board's seven members, elicited a response from Robert B. Sloan Jr., who served as Baylor University president at the time. In a written statement, he claimed that he and many of the students, alumni, and parents were "justifiably outraged".