Pubdate: Sun, 17 Aug 2003
Source: Abilene Reporter-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Abilene Reporter-News
Author: Jim Vertuno


WACO -- Former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss tried to cover up alleged 
NCAA violations by telling assistant coaches and players to lie and say a 
slain player had been dealing drugs to pay for school, secretly recorded 
audiotapes reveal.

The recordings were made by an assistant coach who turned them over to 
Baylor and NCAA investigators on Friday. Copies of the tapes were obtained 
by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"The tapes reveal a desperate man trying to figure out how to cover himself 
and to cover up" NCAA violations, said Kirk Watson, counsel for Baylor's 
in-house investigations committee.

It was unclear how many players Bliss talked to about the scheme. Watson 
said only one player followed Bliss's plan, but has since recanted. He 
would not identify the player.

The review committee found no evidence Patrick Dennehy was involved in drug 

Watson said the tapes would be turned over to prosecutors to determine 
whether a crime had been committed.

Neither Bliss nor assistant coach Abar Rouse, who made the tapes, could be 
reached for comment Saturday. Attempts to reach Baylor players and other 
assistant coaches Saturday were unsuccessful.

Bliss, however, acknowledged the cover-up to the Star-Telegram and The 
Dallas Morning News in Saturday's editions.

"The bizarre circumstances painted me into a corner and I chose the wrong 
way to react," he said.

Bliss was among 10 Baylor officials to attend Dennehy's memorial service on 
Aug. 7, the day before he resigned as coach.

"I keep going back to him shaking my hand and me thanking him for coming," 
Dennehy's stepfather, Brian Brabazon, said in a telephone interview 
Saturday after learning of the tapes. "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."

In a statement Friday night, Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said he 
felt betrayed by Bliss' attempt "to suppress and conceal the truth."

Earlier this month, Sloan said an internal review committee had found that 
two players had received improper tuition payments and that Bliss had 
admitted involvement. The tapes reveal an attempt to divert investigators 
away from those improper payments.

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

Rouse, who joined Baylor on June 1, said he made the secret recordings 
after Bliss told him he would lose his job if he didn't help carry out the 

Bliss said on the tapes that Dennehy couldn't deny the allegations because 
he was dead.

In one conversation, Bliss indicated another player, Harvey Thomas, would 
be willing to lie about Dennehy's activities because Baylor coaches had 
publicly denied knowledge of threats Thomas allegedly made to Dennehy 
before Dennehy's disappearance.

"Harvey will do anything," Bliss told Rouse. "And the reason is because we 
did it for Harvey."

Thomas has denied making threats or any involvement in Dennehy's death. A 
former teammate, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with Dennehy's murder. 
Dotson remains jailed in his home state of Maryland awaiting extradition.

Dennehy, whose body was found in a field outside Waco on July 25, died from 
two gunshot wounds to the head.
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