|Robert B. Sloan Jr.|
WACO, Texas (BP)–Allegations of major NCAA violations involving players getting paid and improper drug testing have led Baylor University’s head men’s basketball coach and athletic director to resign.
In addition, Baylor’s president, Robert B. Sloan Jr., has placed the men’s basketball program on probation for at least two years and has implemented a new procedure for drug testing of student athletes at the school.
Coach Dave Bliss admitted involvement in the infractions and resigned Aug. 8, while athletic director Tom Stanton stepped down for failing to maintain the integrity of Baylor’s athletic program.
“I’m the head coach, and I’m accountable for everything that goes on in my program,” Bliss said in a news conference Aug. 8. “I accept that responsibility. I intend to cooperate fully as the inquiry continues. I’ll do whatever I can to make things right.”
Sloan said he and the investigative committee have determined there have been “serious or major violations” relating to financial aid and rewards and benefits.
“We have concluded that two student athletes received money for payment of tuition to Baylor that came from a third party,” Sloan said at the news conference Aug. 8.
Additionally, the initial phase of the investigation revealed a failure to follow institutional procedures dealing with drug use after staff members had knowledge of a student athlete’s use of a substance on the list of banned drugs.
“Near to the heart of Baylor University is a commitment to integrity,” Sloan said. “It is a commitment that includes compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations, but it goes in fact far beyond that commitment to the NCAA. It is a commitment to ourselves and our Lord as a Christian institution where faith and integrity matter.”
Sloan said the university will be self-reporting the violations to the NCAA. He placed the men’s basketball program on probation effective immediately “for a period of not less than two years” and said the team will not participate in postseason competition during 2003-04, including the Big 12 tournament.
Also in response to the violations, Sloan announced a new procedure for drug testing that will take the athletic department completely out of the protocol by requiring that only doctors or nurses at the Baylor Health Center perform drug tests. All positive drug test results will be reported directly to Baylor’s office of judicial and legal student services, he said.
The investigation into possible NCAA infractions began after reports surfaced that a coach told Patrick Dennehy, a former Baylor player allegedly murdered by a former teammate, that his education and living expenses would be paid if he gave up his scholarship for a year, the Associated Press reported. The committee also examined whether Dennehy received $1,200 to $1,800 from an assistant coach toward a car loan for his sport utility vehicle, and if players passed urine tests despite smoking marijuana.
Bliss, whose resignation is effective immediately, has been a Division I coach for 28 seasons, working previously at Oklahoma, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and New Mexico, according to the Associated Press. He arrived at Baylor in 1999 in an effort to turn around a program that had been placed on NCAA probation twice since the mid-1980s. Baylor was 14-14 last season and 5-11 in the Big 12.
Stanton, who hired Bliss, was in his sixth year at his alma mater. The AP reported that he will remain on the job until his successor is named. Stanton “had no direct knowledge of any of the infractions,” Sloan said.
The school’s president also reported that the investigation will continue and more sanctions will be implemented if necessary.
In the meantime, Sloan granted permission for Baylor men’s basketball players to transfer.
“Baylor University cares deeply about its students. So any member of the basketball team wishing to leave Baylor to seek other opportunities will be allowed to do so,” he said. “There are many fine young men on the team who have done absolutely nothing wrong. The probation is unfair to those without fault. I apologize for having to take this action. We will treat these young men in the way we would want to be treated ourselves. We are proud of them and hope they do remain a part of the Baylor family.”