Blogger Review of Nomination: Big Blue
This is a twisted story*, and one that doesn't really seem to have ever gotten all the questions resolved. This is James Elroy type material, full of cheats and shady characters, killers, who may or may not be insane patsies, maybe a panty-sniffer or two. We'll try to tie this shit together, so we can come up with a somewhat cohesive picture of how evil happened.
We'll pick up the Dave Bliss saga at Southern Methodist University, where he was the head basketball coach in 1988, when the NCAA ruled that Bliss had overseen violations, including cash payments to at least one player (legendarily overpaid NBA'er Jon Koncak) in the thousands of dollars over a two year period. However, SMU had already been punished strongly already for football violations, and the NCAA decided not to add any further penalties to the Athletic Department. Bliss left SMU shortly thereafter, to coach at New Mexico for several years. Thus far, nothing particularly evil, or even odd about his behavior thus far.
Bliss ends up at Baylor (located in Waco, where "Nothing Can Possibli Go Wrong") in 1999. Things stay pretty quiet until 2003, when Everything Goes Batshit Crazy.
In June of that year, teammates Carlton Dotson and Patrick Dennehy start telling people that they have been threatened by other people, including teammates. They buy guns, and start practicing their shooting skills for their own protection. Dotson apparently shoots Dennehy during one of these sessions, buries his body in a gravel pit, and drives to Virginia Beach (in Dennehy's car), where he ditches the ride and makes his way home to Maryland. That's pretty bad, yeah?
Cops get Dotson, who eventually pleads guilty out of nowhere, despite there being quite a few psychiatrists who think he isn't all there--he may be hearing voices, experiencing hallucinations and the like. He'll be in jail until at least 2032.
So what does this have to do with Dave Bliss? Ah, here's where its gets ugly (that's right--HERE is where it gets ugly)
Shortly after Dennehy's body is discovered in late July, the press starts investigating Baylor's basketball program. (all it takes is one kid shot in the head by another kid to get the press to get suspicious!) They uncover disturbing allegations, that range from typical cheating college coach behavior to outlandish (we hope). We will try to get these allegations in chronological order, but frankly we may get a bit confused, as there are so many:
Rampant Drug Use--Dotson's wife and another player's mom says the coaching staff knew that the players were showing up to practices stoned and drunk, and ignored it, because they didn't want to have to bench or suspend players. Violations that should have been reported to the NCAA weren't. Baylor administration concurs with the allegation. This probably isn't as rare as we might like to think.
Recruiting Violations--Coaches are present for a "pick-up" game with a recruit, in obvious violation of NCAA regs. We suspect this sort of thing happens all the time.
The Big One--Investigations turn to how the deceased Dennehy had even been on the team the previous year without a scholarship. Suspicions rose that Bliss was up to his old tricks, helping players play for school. Bliss is secretly taped coaching his players to lie to investigators, telling his team to lie and tell authorities that Dennehy had raised his tuition by selling drugs. The kid's body had been found the WEEK Bliss makes the demand of his players. Despite damning evidence, Bliss is never charged, not even with Obstruction of Justice. It later turns out that Bliss paid the kid's tuition, to the tune of $40,000.
Where Are They Now?
Dotson is in jail. And will be, for quite a while longer.
Bliss landed in the CBA, right before it imploded. This quote from an ESPN article tells you everything you need to know about Dave Bliss (emphasis mine):
Bliss, 61, and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned from Baylor in August 2003, two months after the death of player Patrick Dennehy. Former teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty in June to killing Dennehy and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Baylor found that Bliss improperly paid up to $40,000 in tuition for Dennehy and another player, and that the coaching staff had not reported players' failed drug tests. Bliss also asked players and an assistant coach to lie to investigators by saying Dennehy paid his tuition by dealing drugs.
"I take full responsibility for what happened," Bliss said. "You can only ask for forgiveness. I made a selfish decision to give those players scholarships."
Yeah, that's the bad decision to be highlighted. Giving them scholarships--the part about teaching them to lie to the authorities, take drugs with impunity, and libel dead friends--no apologies needed! There's a special hell in store for Dave Bliss, and he certainly belongs in the Legion of Doom.
*Thanks to a shockingly well-sourced Wikipedia.org article!