Baylor still committed to Big 12, president says online

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University is committed to remaining in the Big 12 Conference and putting a complete team on the court next season despite the scandal of a murdered player and coach Dave Bliss' attempted coverup of NCAA violations.

"I fully intend to compete," university president Robert Sloan said Monday.

Sloan participated in an online discussion with Baylor fans on the school's Web site. He answered about 15 of the approximately 500 questions sent in. They included questions about Bliss, the future of the Baylor program and why Sloan himself hasn't resigned.

Sloan said he was "shocked and disappointed," by the coverup plot involving Bliss. "On the other hand, all of us need to remember that Dave Bliss and his entire family are in need of our prayers."

Sloan said he believed Baylor had support throughout the university and the Big 12 for staying in the league.

"The answer is not to run away from the problems," Sloan said. "I can tell you that our Big 12 colleagues have been very supportive."

He said the university granted current players their release because that's what he would have wanted if he was a player's father.

"There is no question that we might well lose players," he said. "I asked myself what I would want for my son, if my son had innocently been involved in such tragic circumstances. So, applying the Golden Rule, we offered releases."

Asked why he hadn't resigned like Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton, Sloan said, "I serve at the will of our board. I am totally committed to this university."

Stanton resigned Aug. 8, the same day as Bliss, although Sloan said there's no evidence Stanton participated in any of the alleged NCAA violations or the coverup.

Roberts to transfer

Star junior forward Lawrence Roberts said Monday that he's transferring to Mississippi State, and his decision could trigger a large-scale defection from the team.

Baylor officials have granted several players their release to allow them to look at other schools.

Sloan did not say where the team, which still doesn't have a head coach since Bliss resigned, will get new players if most of the current roster leaves. He also gave no timeline for how quickly Baylor will hire a new coach.

A Baylor investigative committee, meanwhile, heard an additional audiotape related to Bliss' attempt to portray slain player Patrick Dennehy as a drug dealer. The coach's plan was to divert investigators from looking into whether he improperly paid tuition for two players.

The scheme was exposed by secretly recorded audiotapes given to investigators by assistant coach Abar Rouse.

The latest tape came from Richard Guinn, the father of Baylor senior center R.T. Guinn, one of the players Bliss attempted to recruit for the coverup.

Richard Guinn recorded a conversation Bliss had with the player the morning after the plot was exposed. He turned the tape over to Baylor investigators.

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