The Baylor Scandal
After a memorial service for Dennehy in San Jose, California, Bliss asked to meet with school investigators. At that meeting, he was told that Dennehy's girlfriend had told them Bliss paid for the sections of Dennehy and Herring's tuition not covered by financial aid. Bliss confessed to making the payments, estimated at $7,000—a major violation of NCAA rules. Two members of Baylor's 2001-02 squad told the Dallas Morning News that Bliss and several members of his staff had been present at a pickup game involving star recruit Harvey Thomas during his official visit to Baylor—another major NCAA rules violation. It also emerged that Bliss and his staff knew about rampant marijuana and alcohol abuse among Baylor players, but did not follow procedures for reporting failed drug tests. Under the circumstances, Bliss was forced to resign on August 8, 2003.
After Bliss resigned, it emerged that he had told players to make up a story about Dennehy being a drug dealer in order to pay for his tuition. The story was intended to serve as a cover-up for Bliss paying Dennehy's tuition. The conversations were tape-recorded by one of Bliss's assistants, Abar Rouse. Bliss had threatened to fire Rouse if he didn't go along with the scheme, leading Rouse to record the conversations. Rouse later sued his attorney for releasing the tapes to investigators. Bliss later called his actions in this phase of the incident "despicable."
Internal and NCAA investigations during 2005 revealed further violations. Besides paying parts of Dennehy and Herring's tuition, Bliss admitted that he'd concealed under-the-table payments to Herring and lied to both the NCAA and Baylor investigators. He also admitted to telling assistant coaches to file false expense reports and lie to Baylor investigators.
Bliss was slapped with a 10-year show-cause order for what the NCAA called "a blatant and sweeping disregard" of NCAA rules. This means that until 2015, Bliss would have to agree to abide by any restrictions the NCAA infractions committee imposes on him if he wants to work at another NCAA member school in an athletic capacity, then report back to the NCAA in writing every six months for the duration of the order or until the end of his employment. Bliss's prospective employer would have to show cause for why Bliss would not have to have restrictions imposed on his duties. The penalty is the most severe punishment the NCAA can hand a coach. Most major schools will not even consider hiring a coach with an outstanding "show-cause" order on his record, and only one Division I head basketball coach has ever been hired again as a head coach after being hit by a show-cause. Combined with the evidence that Bliss may have engaged in extortion, witness tampering and obstruction of justice (although he has never been criminally charged), it is highly unlikely that Bliss will ever return as a college coach. Ash was hit with a five-year show-cause order. Another assistant, Rodney Belcher, was hit with a seven-year show-cause order for lying about recruiting violations committed in the course of bringing Dennehy to Baylor.
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“Gossip is charming! History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.”
—Oscar Wilde (18541900)