Baylor president says no booster paid basketball players

Updated: August 12, 2003, 9:13 AM ET

WACO, Texas -- While most of the Baylor basketball team is deciding whether to stay with a program now on self-imposed probation for NCAA violations, at least three players have agreed to return.

"Because no matter what, postseason or not, we're going to be able to play against great players in the Big 12," senior Matt 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," he said.

Sayman said two others also have decided not to transfer.

Sayman said he knew nothing about his teammates receiving money or taking drugs, two major violations that led to Friday's resignations of basketball coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton.

Baylor president Robert Sloan said school investigators discovered that Bliss was involved in two players' receiving improper financial aid and that staff members did not properly report failed drug tests by players.

At a news conference after a 2{-hour meeting with the team and parents Monday, Sloan declined to say where the two players received tuition money but said it was not from a booster. He said university accounts were being audited.

"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."

Allegations of NCAA violations surfaced after the mid-June disappearance 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.

Dennehy played two seasons for the New Mexico Lobos before transferring to Baylor in the spring of 2002.

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.

Dotson's estranged wife, Melissa Kethley, was expected to testify Wednesday before a grand jury, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday. A McLennan County district attorney's office investigator served Kethley with a subpoena Saturday at her Sulphur Springs home, the newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.

Kethley has said that her husband was hearing voices and had been talking to a counselor paid for by Baylor but that she does not believe he killed Dennehy.

One of Dennehy's friends has said an assistant coach gave Dennehy blank money orders to pay for his vehicle and apartment rent. Patrick Dennehy Sr. has said a coach assured his son that if he gave up his scholarship for a year, Baylor would help pay tuition and living expenses.

Dennehy's mother and stepfather, Valorie and Brian Brabazon, have said they were not paying for his tuition -- more than $17,000 a year -- or living expenses.

Sloan said Stanton had no direct knowledge of the NCAA violations. On Friday, Sloan put the basketball program on probation for at least two years.

Sloan said he would announce Tuesday a search committee that would work quickly to hire a basketball coach and an athletic director.

John Lucas, a former coach of NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers whose son is 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.

Lucas attended the Cowboys practice Monday in San Antonio, where he talked to coach Bill Parcells and team owner Jerry Jones. Lucas said he was 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, basketball player R.T. Guinn, will stay at Baylor because he is a senior. R.T. Guinn wants to be a college coach, his father said.

Guinn 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 requests it but that the NCAA will decide whether to waive a rule requiring players to sit out for a year after transferring.

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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