Baylor president says no booster paid basketball players

Updated: August 11, 2003, 8:59 PM ET

WACO, Texas -- No booster was involved in paying Baylor basketball players, and the school has no "slush fund," university president Robert Sloan said Monday.

He would not elaborate on where two athletes got money for tuition, an NCAA violation that led to the resignations of coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton on Friday.

"Thus far, I have no knowledge of any booster money being involved in improper payments," Sloan said. "... I know of absolutely no evidence of a slush fund."

Sloan met with players and their families for more than two hours Monday, saying there was "frustration, tears, commitment, all kinds of emotion in the room." Bliss and Stanton also attended the meeting.

Allegations of NCAA violations surfaced after the disappearance in mid-June of basketball player Patrick Dennehy, whose body was found July 25 in a field near a rock quarry southeast of town. He died of gunshot wounds to the head, according to a preliminary autopsy report.

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

One of Dennehy's friends has said an assistant coach gave Dennehy blank money orders to buy a vehicle and for his apartment rent. Patrick Dennehy Sr. has said a coach assured his son the school would help him pay tuition and living expenses after the player gave up his scholarship for a year. Dennehy's mother and stepfather, Valorie and Brian Brabazon, have said they were not paying his tuition -- more than $17,000 a year -- and living expenses.

In a news conference Friday, Sloan said Bliss was involved in the violations but that Stanton had no direct knowledge of them. Sloan put the basketball program on probation for at least two years.

Matt Sayman, a senior, said he and at least two other players will return this fall, despite Sloan's self-imposed sanctions barring the team from postseason competition next season.

"Because no matter what, postseason or not, we're going to be able to play against great players in the Big 12, and we're going to Hawaii. Who doesn't want to do that?" Sayman said Monday. "... And it's just the honor. We have nothing to lose, so we're just going to go and play hard and try to gain people's respect as we go and get a couple of wins along the way."

Sayman said he knew nothing about any players receiving money or taking drugs. Sloan has said staff members did not properly report failed drug tests by players, another NCAA violation uncovered by the school's investigative committee.

Sloan said he would announce Tuesday the search committee for the coach and athletic director positions. He said the committee would move quickly.

John Lucas, a former Cleveland Cavaliers coach whose son plays on the Baylor basketball team, has been mentioned as a candidate to replace Bliss. Sloan said Monday that he respects Lucas and said there are "a number of good names" on the list of candidates.

Lucas attended the Cowboys practice in San Antonio on Monday, speaking with coach Bill Parcells at length before and after the workout, and also talking to team owner Jerry Jones. Lucas said he was just trying to learn how to be a better coach.

Lucas would not say if he would accept a basketball coaching position at Baylor if offered or whether his son, John Lucas Jr., will play there next season.

"I'm a family member there," the elder Lucas said Monday. "I feel right now, our concern is to investigate, listen and learn."

Richard Guinn said his son, R.T. Guinn, will stay at Baylor because he is a senior. R.T. Guinn wants to be a college coach, his father said.

"He's gaining an intimate knowledge of things he needs to know about," Richard Guinn said.

Richard Guinn said he wants a new coach in right away but that Sloan promised to have one in place by October, when practice starts. He said Sloan did not say who Baylor officials are considering for the positions and no names were mentioned.

Guinn said the meeting was an "excellent" give-and-take between Baylor officials and players and their families. He said school officials discussed the NCAA rules regarding transfers, but that no one in the meeting said if they planned to leave.

Sloan said Baylor agreed to release any player who wants to transfer but that the NCAA will decide whether to waive a rule requiring players to sit out for a year at their next school.

Guinn and Sayman were the only family member and player to speak to the media after the meeting. Police escorted most people to their cars. Reporters were kept about 150 feet away from the building exit under threat of arrest.

Guinn said the group also prayed for Dennehy.

"I wish we could go back in time," Guinn said, "like it never happened."


AP staff writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.

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