Negative events not mentioned at Baylor graduation

Updated: August 9, 2003, 5:08 PM ET

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's summer graduation took place as scheduled Saturday, one day after the basketball coach and the athletic director resigned in the wake of revelations of NCAA violations.

In his commencement address to the more than 500 graduates, president Robert B. Sloan Jr. did not mention the resignations or the June slaying of basketball player Patrick Dennehy, whose former teammate has been charged with murder.

Some graduates said they haven't focused too much on the recent events that have cast a cloud over Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university with 14,000 students.

"I don't think it takes away from the graduates, but it might take away from the students coming in. They might feel it's not the same place it used to be," said Chris C. Thomas, who earned a bachelor's degree in German.

Basketball coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned Friday, a day after they and other Baylor officials attended Dennehy's memorial service in his home state of California.

Dennehy, 21, had been missing about six weeks when his body was found July 25 in a field near a rock quarry four miles from campus. He died from gunshot wounds to the head, according to a preliminary autopsy report.

Carlton Dotson, 21, who played basketball at Baylor last season and lived with Dennehy a few months, remains jailed in his home state of Maryland awaiting transfer to Texas.

The university launched an internal inquiry in July into possible NCAA violations after allegations surfaced from some of Dennehy's friends and family.

Sloan said Friday that the school's investigation committee already has uncovered major violations -- in which Bliss was involved -- regarding two athletes receiving tuition payments from a third party. Sloan also said staff members did not properly report failed drug tests by players.

Sloan, who said Stanton did not know about the violations, put the basketball program on probation for at least two years.

Charles Weaver, president of Baylor's faculty senate, said the resignations were a "regrettable but necessary first step in restoring Baylor's reputation."

"Given the seriousness of the reported offenses, Coach Bliss had little choice. While Tom Stanton apparently had no direct role, he nonetheless shares some of the responsibility -- these violations occurred under his watch," Weaver said.

Harvey Thomas, a basketball player who recently transferred to Baylor after attending four colleges, said he was shocked that Bliss resigned.

"I wanted to play for Coach Bliss and make a big impact, and now all that is taken away," Thomas told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "I was looking for a place to settle down. It just looks like I'll be on the go my whole life."

After Dennehy's disappearance, some of his friends said Thomas, a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, threatened him after he arrived in Waco in May.

Thomas said Friday that he never threatened Dennehy and that he proved it by passing polygraph tests in Waco and Washington, D.C.

"All those stories about me making threats toward Patrick were false," Thomas told the Waco newspaper. "I wanted to take the polygraph test because I knew I had nothing to do with it."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index