Basketball Rebound

October 13, 2003

With students back on campus, the Baylor community gathered in late August for a memorial service for Patrick Dennehy, the junior basketball player who disappeared in early June and whose body later was discovered near gravel pits not far from campus. Autopsy results showed that Dennehy died from two gunshot wounds to the head. Former teammate Carlton Dotson has been indicted in connection with Dennehy's death.
The memorial service provided a period of quiet reflection and remembrance after a summer of startling allegations about the Baylor men's basketball program. Following the discovery of Dennehy's body July 25 after several weeks of uncertainty about his fate, Baylor was rocked further by a series of announcements: 
• Head coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned in the wake of findings by an internal investigative committee into alleged NCAA violations; 
• Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. placed the men's program on probation for at least two years, imposed a one-year postseason ban and instituted a new drug-testing procedure for student-athletes; 
• Assistant basketball coach Abar Rouse gave the investigative committee an audiocassette tape of a conversation between Bliss and himself, which outlines Bliss' scheme to cover up his involvement in payment of tuition monies by having Rouse instruct other ballplayers to suggest that Dennehy obtained the money by dealing drugs; and
• Patrick Dennehy Sr., father of the slain ballplayer, filed for unspecified damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against Baylor, its Board of Regents and a number of individually named defendants.
"Dave Bliss' attempts to conceal from investigators the truth about improprieties in our men's basketball program represent a profound betrayal of the trust that Baylor University and our players placed in him," Dr. Sloan said in a statement to the media Aug. 16. "I am outraged not only by his own deception, but his efforts to enlist players and assistant coaches in this scheme."
Some good news came Aug. 22 when Scott Drew was introduced as Baylor's new men's basketball coach. Drew has coached for 10 seasons at Valparaiso University, where he led the Crusaders to a 20-11 record and into the National Invitation Tournament in 2002-03 in his first year as head coach. 
Preliminary findings in early August of the investigative committee found that two student-athletes received money for tuition from Bliss, and that Baylor staff had not followed University procedure for reporting the presence of a banned substance in student-athlete drug tests -- both major NCAA infractions. Dr. Sloan did not name the student-athletes involved in either of the infractions. 
The University immediately instituted a new procedure for drug testing of student-athletes that severed the process from the athletic department. Doctors and nurses at Baylor's Health Center will perform all future screenings utilizing "observed testing procedures," Dr. Sloan said. Any positive results will be reported directly to Baylor's Office of Judicial and Legal Student Services.
In accepting Stanton's resignation, Dr. Sloan expressed "deep regret" and said that although Stanton "had no direct knowledge of any of the infractions, as the man of character that he is, he accepts responsibility for maintaining the integrity of Baylor's athletic program." 
David Brooks, vice president for finance and administration, was named interim AD.
Baylor appointed an investigative committee July 25 after members of the Dennehy and Dotson families alleged NCAA infractions. Dr. Sloan named Baylor Law School professors Bill Underwood, David Guinn and Mike Rogers to conduct a thorough review of the men's basketball program. Former Austin mayor and Baylor alumnus Kirk Watson was retained as outside counsel to the committee. As of mid-September, the work of the investigative committee continued.
"Baylor University is resilient, strong, a place of integrity," Dr. Sloan said. "I am confident Baylor University will go forward in strength."