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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Baylor Hopes Strict Measures will Avoid NCAA Crack-down

Aired August 19, 2003 - 19:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, our next story sounds like perhaps an episode out of "Law and Order." A probe of a basketball player's homicide has now led to stunning allegations of corruption in a college athletic program.
David Mattingly is in Waco, Texas. He has the latest on the follow-up from the murder of Patrick Dennehy.

And I understand, David, there's just been a news conference. What's the university saying about Coach Bliss, Dave Bliss today?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, the university program here, the Baylor Bears men's basketball program, struggled through last season playing in this arena behind me. They ended up tied for ninth in the big 12 conference.

And now the university is struggling to find a way to make sure the program just survives into the next season.

Everyone here was stunned by the shooting death of Patrick Dennehy, allegedly at the hands of a fellow teammate. The campus is reeling again now with the news that head Coach Dave Bliss allegedly tried to conceal improper payments to Dennehy.

Bliss was tape-recorded trying to recruit players and assistant coaches to go along with the story that Dennehy got the money for tuition and an SUV by selling drugs.

Now, hoping to avoid severe penalties from the NCAA, the coach has resigned, the school has put the program on probation. The athletic director has resigned, as well, though administrators today made it clear he didn't know what was going on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BROOKS, V.P., ADMINISTRATION & FINANCE, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: It's important to note that the university's investigation committee has reported to Dr. Sloan that it has seen no evidence revealing that Tom was aware of or had any knowledge of efforts by Dave Bliss to conceal or cover up violations of the NCAA or Baylor rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: And this is a campus of about 14,000 students, a very conservative private school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. And several students we talked to today say they are now relying on their faith to help get them through this scandal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened here was -- was very wrong. And I don't think it's reflective at all of what the school stands for, about this university.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got e-mails and things like that from -- since the beginning, just to pray for the families and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're blaming the whole university for the actions of one. But as a child of God, you should forgive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: And as part of their self-punishment, the program, the basketball program is letting its scholarshipped athletes to take a pass on next season to go somewhere else if they want to. Normally, a school doesn't do that in situations like this. But again, it's part of their self-punishment, hoping that the NCAA doesn't step in and impose something even more difficult.

So far, eight players have taken them up on that offer. It's still hopeful, however, at the university that some of those eight players will come back and play next season -- Daryn.

KAGAN: David Mattingly in Waco, Texas, thank you for that.

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