Baylor panel to address possible rules violations

Saturday, July 26, 2003

WACO, Texas -- Baylor chose a panel Friday to investigate whether coaches made illegal payments to Patrick Dennehy, the basketball player who disappeared last month and is presumed dead.

The committee, composed of three Baylor Law School professors, hired former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson as an outside counsel to help determine if NCAA rules were broken.

Dennehy's family was in Waco this week to collect belongings from his apartment and meet with police who have been searching for the 21-year-old player.

The family left Waco on Friday after meeting with police for about three hours. His mother and stepfather, Valorie and Brian Brabazon, said the meeting went well, but they would not discuss specifics about the investigation into the 6-foot-10 center's disappearance in mid-June.

"We still have hope that our son is out there alive," Valorie Brabazon said. "We are not going to give up hope ever."

Former teammate Carlton Dotson was charged with murder and is in a Maryland jail awaiting an extradition hearing. Police have said Dotson admitted to the killing, but after his arrest he told The Associated Press that he "didn't confess to anything."

Concerns over rules violations in Baylor's basketball program stem from reports that a coach told Dennehy his education and living expenses would be paid if he gave up his scholarship.

One of the committee members was involved in a 1993-94 investigation of the team about coaches illegally doing correspondence course work for players. The investigation led to an FBI inquiry in which three assistant coaches were convicted of mail and wire fraud.

Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss has denied that coaches made improper payments to Dennehy.

Among the accusations against Baylor is that Dennehy emerged from basketball offices last fall with between $1,200 and $1,800 that he told his girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa, came from a coach and was to go toward the purchase of a car.

De La Rosa declined to comment Thursday.

A car dealer from the small town of West said Bliss called him last fall and told him he had a new player who was looking for a sport-utility vehicle. The player was Dennehy.

However, auto dealer Jerrel Bolton told The Associated Press that Dennehy told him he got the $2,000 down payment for the black 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe from "one of his girlfriends" -- not from the Baylor coaching staff.

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