Baylor's men's basketball team was banned from playing
nonconference games for one season and placed on five years'
probation by the NCAA on Thursday for numerous rules violations
found after a former player murdered a teammate in 2003.
Gene Marsh, chairman of the Division I Committee on Infractions
and a professor of law at Alabama, said he believes it is the first
time the NCAA has instituted a partial ban on regular-season games
He said the committee seriously considered banning Baylor's
program for a season.
"As a repeat violator, they were subject to the death
penalty," Marsh said. "Their penalties and their approach saved
their basketball season."
The NCAA has used the death penalty only once -- on the SMU
football program in the late 1980s. Marsh said Baylor's violations
under former coach Dave Bliss were "as serious" as those
committed by SMU.
Baylor was considered a repeat offender because the tennis
program received sanctions in 2000 for improper financial aid and
Last week, Carlton Dotson, 23, was sentenced to 35 years in
prison after he pleaded guilty in the death of Patrick Dennehy, a
killing that led to revelations of wrongdoing in Baylor's program.
Dennehy was missing for six weeks before his body was found in July
2003 in a field where the best friends had gone to shoot guns at
"This is the final step in bringing a two-year scandal to a
close for the university," said William D. Underwood, Baylor's
interim president. "It will never close for some individuals,
including the Patrick Dennehy family and the Carlton Dotson family,
but this is the final piece in moving beyond the scandal."
The NCAA gave Baylor the option of canceling its nonconference
schedule, usually about 15 games a year, this season or next.
Underwood, who was on an internal committee investigating the
violations, said the Bears would play the shortened season this
The Bears will be allowed to play regular-season Big 12
Conference games and participate in the postseason tournament.
Although the team will be eligible for NCAA postseason play, it
will be difficult to gain enough wins to make the NCAA or NIT
tournament without a nonconference schedule.
By August, Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton had resigned
in the wake of numerous allegations of NCAA violations.
School investigators later discovered that Bliss paid up to
$40,000 in tuition for two players and improperly solicited $87,000
from Baylor boosters. The probe also revealed that staff members
did not properly report some players' failed drug tests.
The infractions led to self-imposed sanctions, including a
three-year probation, reduced scholarships and reduced contact
between coaches and recruits. The school also banned itself from
postseason play in the 2003-2004 season, and all players were
offered a release from their scholarships.
The NCAA adopted many of Baylor's self-imposed sanctions with
Thursday's ruling, although Baylor's reductions in recruiting
visits and coaches who can leave campus to recruit were extended by
"Baylor University worked hard to thoroughly investigate this
matter and did a very good job of cooperating with the NCAA," Big
12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said. "I am confident that the
university is putting in place the kinds of checks and balances to
assist in avoiding these problems in the future."
The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions found intentional
violations by coaches and attempts to cover up those violations.
That led to a conclusion of unethical conduct by Bliss and three
Any NCAA school that wants to hire Bliss in the next 10 years
must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine
limitations on his activities. One former assistant will be subject
to this procedure for seven years and two others for five years.
"He attempted to try to cover up what had occurred to the point
of making people practice and record their statements like in a
high school play," Marsh said of Bliss. "It's about as bad as it
Baylor coach Scott Drew said his team was disappointed but is
looking forward to the 2006-07 season when the Bears will regain
their scholarships and be eligible for all games.
"Our program continues to focus on the future, and we know that
it is bright," he said.
The scandal is the second to hit the basketball program in the
In 1994, Baylor reduced scholarships, banned itself from
postseason play and television appearances and placed itself under
a two-year probation after a recruiting and academic fraud scandal
under former coach Darrel Johnson.
The NCAA's findings also revealed academic fraud by three Baylor