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Bad news Bears

National

Issue: "Ten Commandments showdown," Aug. 30, 2003

Memo to Dave Bliss: It's time to tell all. The embattled former Baylor basketball coach still hasn't given much of an explanation why he asked fellow coaches and players to paint slain Baylor walk-on Patrick Dennehy as a young man who paid his way through college by dealing drugs. In reality, Dennehy paid for his college education through illicit cash sums that came from Mr. Bliss.

Carlton Dotson, a former teammate at Baylor, has been charged with the murder. Dennehy died from two gunshot wounds to the head. An autopsy revealed no drugs in his system.

Tapes secretly recorded by a forward-thinking Baylor assistant coach reveal that even before Dennehy's body was found, the coach was plotting to cover up his illegal tuition payments. The tapes, obtained by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reveal Mr. Bliss saying Dennehy couldn't refute the false charges because he was dead.

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In the tapes, Mr. Bliss is heard saying, "I think the thing we want to do-and you think about this-if there's a way we can create the perception that Pat may have been a dealer. Even if we have to make some things look a little better than they are, that can save us." Dennehy's stepfather was incensed when he heard Mr. Bliss's plot-hatched even before the funeral. "Had I had even an inkling of this, I would have grabbed his hand and his throat and thrown him against the wall and beat him."

Earlier this month, Baylor University president Robert B. Sloan Jr. said two players, including Dennehy, had received illegal tuition payments and that the former coach was involved. Just who else was involved is a question for the NCAA to investigate or for Mr. Bliss to reveal.

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