WACO, Texas -- Facing more bad news and new sanctions,
Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew flashed his optimistic smile,
just like he did six months ago when he arrived on a campus swamped
by scandal within the hoops program.
Drew faces another year of probation, new scholarship reductions
and reduced contacts with recruits the next two years because of
NCAA violations committed by his predecessor, Dave Bliss.
"I'm more encouraged than when I first got here," Drew said
Thursday. "The community and this school have been so supportive
of this team it just makes you want to work harder."
School President Robert Sloan announced the new sanctions
Thursday as he released a summary of the school's internal
investigation that found major NCAA violations Bliss committed. The
school will send its report to the NCAA.
Among the findings: Bliss improperly paid up to $40,000 in
tuition for two players, the coaching staff didn't report failed
drug tests by athletes and Bliss lied to investigators in trying to
cover up his misdeeds.
Other violations included Bliss and his staff arranging meals,
transportation, lodging and clothing for athletes or prospective
athletes. Coaches also paid $336 in tuition at a junior college for
a prospective player.
The school began its investigation last summer when player
Patrick Dennehy was killed and former teammate Carlton Dotson was
charged with his murder.
"The university is embarrassed," said Sloan, the leader of the
world's largest Baptist organization and the Big 12's only private
school. "Faith, integrity and honesty matter."
Drew preferred to think about how Baylor has closed a chapter in
the sordid affair. Baylor has finished its investigation.
"They're done with it. I'm encouraged and ready to move on,"
he said. "We knew there would be more sanctions."
Even the reduction of scholarships from 13 to nine next season
didn't seem to cause him much concern.
Baylor, 8-18, plays just seven scholarship athletes this season
so Drew still gets to add two next year. And with the departure of
his seniors, he'll get to sign four new players to his roster.
Compared with NCAA rules that would have allowed him to sign up
to five new players next year, Drew really loses just one
scholarship in the short term. And by 2005-2006, he'll be just one
shy of the full allotment.
"Seven scholarship players. Next year we go to nine so I look
at it as we're gaining," he said.
"It's the quality of guys you bring in. If you have nine
quality guys, that's all you need," he said.
Drew's confidence is bolstered by Baylor's already winning more
games this season than most would have expected. Last season's top
three players, John Lucas, Kenny Taylor and Lawrence Roberts all
transferred to other schools before this season.
"We weren't supposed to win any conference games and we weren't
supposed to be competitive," he said. "To me there's nothing more
rewarding than seeing hard work pay off."
The bigger problems may lie in Baylor's self-imposed limits on
contact between coaches and recruits, from fewer on-campus visits
by players to fewer coaches allowed to recruit off campus.
"All that affects us. We'll have to do more research, maybe not
bring people in until we know more where they stand," Drew said.
Sloan said he supports Drew but had no choice but to deliver
tough penalties for Bliss' past violations.
"Baylor's honesty and integrity must be protected," Sloan
said. "To underdeliver would be an error."
Most of the violations had been acknowledged by the school
before Thursday's news conference, which was much like a public
apology and a declaration it would fix its problems. Sloan provided
new details on money improperly spent on players, and he disclosed
that Bliss had solicited money from two university regents.
School officials said the regents, Jim Turner and Wes Bailey,
were misled about their donations to a charity organization that
sponsored AAU teams and did nothing wrong.
The NCAA will now look at Baylor's report and decide whether to
accept its finding and sanctions or impose more.
Bill Underwood, a Baylor law professor who sat on the school's
investigations committee, said the sanctions were not specifically
imposed to deflect the NCAA.
"That's really not the ultimate question for us, trying to
guess what the NCAA will do and beat them to the game," Underwood
said. "What we tried to do is determine what we think is
The NCAA could not comment because it had not yet seen the
school's findings, spokesman Jeff Howard said. He said the NCAA has
been in "constant communication with Baylor throughout their
Lawyers for Bliss, who resigned in August and now works at a
sporting goods store in a Denver suburb, did not immediately return