August 17, 2003
Baylor story gets uglier

I didn't think it was possible for the story of murdered Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy to get any sleazier, but I was wrong.

WACO -- Baylor University president Robert Sloan and chairman of the Board of Regents Drayton McLane expressed "outrage" and "anger" Saturday at the actions of former head men's basketball coach Dave Bliss.

Evidence surfaced Friday that Bliss, who resigned his position Aug. 8, attempted to have players lie to investigators by presenting information that would lead them to believe murdered teammate Patrick Dennehy had paid his tuition by dealing drugs. There is evidence that one player may have gone through with the deception.

Dennehy's stepfather, Brian Brabazon, was furious to find out Bliss had attended his slain son's funeral one day before his resignation, shaking family members' hands to offer condolences, despite knowing he had tried to tarnish Dennehy's reputation.

"Had I had even an inkling of this, I would have grabbed his hand and his throat and thrown him against the wall and beat him," Brabazon told the Associated Press.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram acquired copies of tapes of conversations secretly recorded by assistant coach Abar Rouse, detailing Bliss' plan to throw investigators off the trail. Sloan has strongly hinted that the school believes Bliss was solely responsible for the payment of Dennehy's and teammate Corey Herring's tuitions.


The tapes, which were reportedly made on July 30, 31 and Aug. 1, indicate Bliss was preparing his counterattack even as the school's investigators were looking into allegations regarding the basketball team.

"I think the thing we want to do -- and you think about this -- if there's any way that we can create the perception of the fact that Pat may have been a dealer," Bliss reportedly said on the tape. "Even if we had to make some things look a little better than they are, that can save us."

Rouse, who was hired by Bliss on June 1, said the former coach threatened to fire him if he did not help with the coverup scheme. He decided to record the conversations for his protection.

The committee found no evidence Dennehy was involved in drug dealing. Bliss could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Jesus H. Christ. That's just amazingly callous and selfish. Frankly, I hope that this leads to Bliss' arrest for attempting to tamper with the investigation.

Chron columnist John Lopez wrote recently that the Big 12 should give Baylor the boot. Hard to believe that a conference whose schools have hired the likes of Barry Switzer and Jackie Sherrill in the past could find something to get morally indignant about, but there you have it. Of course, on a practical level, it's not clear who would replace Baylor among the Dirty Dozen. Lopez' suggestion of Arkansas or LSU is fantasy - there's no way in hell the SEC lets itself get raided. Brigham Young has often been tossed around as a candidate for one of the BCS conferences. I can't really think of any other reasonable fits. Not that I really care what happens to the Big 12, mind you.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 17, 2003 to Other sports | TrackBack

I have seen sleazy college basketball coaches in my lifetime, and I thought Jerry Tarkanian was the worst of the lot. I was wrong.

Dave Bliss redefines the word "slimeball".

Posted by: William Hughes on August 17, 2003 3:38 PM

What's it gonna take before we realize, as a nation, that things like this are just wrong?????

I wish we could find a way to make this story the story that gets EVERY NC2A program investigated, and gets the DEATH PENALTY (remember SMU???) for any of them with any history of corruption/ongoing sleaze. Not only should Bliss go to jail for this, not only should he and his AD be blacklisted, but Baylor's president should resign immediately. This happened on his watch, he should've had his eyes open.

This is crap. This is garbage. This is a microcosmic example of the corruption that the love of money over and above all other considerations has wrought throughout our society.

Posted by: The Other Sarah on August 17, 2003 6:58 PM

Suborning witnesses in a capital murder case should get Bliss some serious time if he's convicted of it. And a stupidity wrap for doing it in a high-profile case.

Baylor leadership has every right to be angry and outraged, but I want to know more about how the coach was "solely responsible for the payment of Dennehy's and teammate Corey Herring's tuitions." How's that again? Who was paying these guys to play?

Posted by: Michael on August 17, 2003 11:58 PM

I know this is a a minor difference, but if President Sloan really believed that Bliss is guilty on these charges, which are not only unethical but probably criminal, why on earth did he allow Bliss to resign instead of an outright termination?

And what about the AD? He was either complicit with the illegal payments or incompetent in managing the programs under his jurisdiction.

Posted by: Alex on August 18, 2003 2:12 PM

Wow. What an a**hole. Prosecute him.

And, so it's the "Big 11", so what. Dump Baylor, schedule independents, or take a hit and skip some games (let's not hold our breath waiting for that). Easy for me to say, of course, I'm not a Big 12 fan -- although I might be a Big 11 one on principle.

Posted by: Thomas Nephew on August 20, 2003 10:37 AM