ABILENE, Texas (BP)–“I cheated,” David Bliss told students at Hardin-Simmons University Sept. 28.
“I allowed the competitive world of college athletics to compromise my moral compass,” said Bliss, former Baylor University men’s basketball coach who was fired in 2002 because of NCAA violations from what he called his dream job.
“But my story is one of encouragement,” Bliss said. “It gives reason to believe.”
In a chapel service at the Baptist university in Abilene, Texas, Bliss said, “I am the headlights flashing on the country road, warning you of something ahead….
“I never thought I would do something to humiliate my family and the people I love. But it did happen to me and I am here to warn you that it happens.”
A student of legendary coach Bobby Knight, Bliss recounted that his violations were exposed after one of his basketball players was murdered.
“I cheated on something I didn’t need to cheat on,” Bliss said. “I was afraid of not having enough basketball players, so I paid for two of my players to continue going to school after their scholarship money ran out.”
Bliss said his “darkest moment [was] broadcast on ESPN. I embarrassed my family and the people whom I loved around me.” At the time, “I didn’t think I would smile again.”
It was then that Bliss said he asked God, “Can I have a do over?” and realized he had to put Jesus on a pedestal.
“I learned the difference between being saved and surrendering.” He said. “God can repair anything if you give Him all the pieces.”
Bliss acknowledged that it was hard to forgive himself but said he is comforted that he can always accept God’s forgiveness.
The former coach closed by telling Hardin-Simmons student that “Jesus Christ is our safety net. Every day we have opportunities to increase Christ in us.”
Bliss has been asked to share his journey with men’s groups, university students, churches, high school organizations and numerous teams throughout the country, via his outreach, Game Plan Ministries. He addressed coaches at the 2008 San Antonio Final Four and the 2009 Texas High School Coaches Association.
In May, Bliss was hired as the academic dean of students at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas, the oldest college prep school in the state.
Bliss is a friend of HSU’s former basketball coach, Dennis Harp, who now works in the university advancement office.
Cutter Roberts is a student editor at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.