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Report: Bliss admits making improper payments

ESPN.com news services

Former Baylor men's basketball coach Dave Bliss has acknowledged being directly involved in improper tuition payments for two players, The Dallas Morning News reported in Sunday's editions.

According to the report, Baylor president Robert Sloan told four regents on Friday that Bliss had admitted earlier in the day to making the improper payments. Bliss resigned as coach Friday amid a storm of controversy.

One of the players was reportedly the late Patrick Dennehy. The other player given improper tuition payments was not identified to the board, regents said, but the player was described as a current member of the team.

The regents said sorting out the exact source of the payments is a priority for the school's governing board.

"We obviously want to know who is connected to the program, who has access to that amount of money," Rev. Phil Lineberger, a regent, told the newspaper. "We have an audit committee [that] will go through all the records of the athletic department to be sure that money is all accounted for."

Bliss resigned after school investigators discovered violations within the program involving improper financial aid and drug tests that were not properly reported.

Those infractions were described as "major violations" by Sloan, who announced self-imposed sanctions on the basketball program at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Baylor will not participate in any postseason tournaments next year -- including the Big 12 tournament -- and is under probation for up to two years. The NCAA could still decide to issue additional sanctions.

ESPN.com's Andy Katz reports that Sloan will meet with the team Monday to discuss the school's self-imposed sanctions, as well as the turnover in the coaching staff, the search for a new coach and the options now available for the players.

Sources have told Katz that John Lucas has been mentioned as a candidate to serve as interim coach. Lucas is a former NBA head coach, and his son, John Lucas III, plays at Baylor.

Bliss' resignation, along with that of athletic director Tom Stanton, came a day after the memorial service for Dennehy, whose body was found last month near a rock quarry about six weeks after he was last seen. His former teammate and roommate Carlton Dotson has been charged with his murder.

Bliss told Katz following Friday's news conference that after returning Thursday night from Dennehy's memorial service in San Jose, Calif., he made a request Friday morning to meet with school investigators to check on their progress.

At that meeting, investigators informed Bliss that they had met with Dennehy's girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa, in Albuquerque, N.M., earlier this week. The investigators said De La Rosa had disclosed to them information concerning monetary violations involving Dennehy and Baylor assistant coach Rodney Belcher.

Bliss stepped down after that meeting.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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