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Coach revelations anger Baylor officials

Tapes reveal coach directed players to mislead investigators

Patrick Dennehy had been missing about six weeks when his body was found July 25 in a field near the Baylor campus.
Patrick Dennehy had been missing about six weeks when his body was found July 25 in a field near the Baylor campus.

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Audio recordings indicate former Baylor basketball head coach Dave Bliss asked players to mislead officials investigating Patrick Dennehy's death. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports (August 18)
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(CNN) -- Baylor University officials Saturday said they are outraged and angered by reports that their basketball team's former head coach told his players to give false information to investigators probing the disappearance and death of teammate Patrick Dennehy.

"I'm outraged not only by his own deception, but his efforts to enlist players and assistant coaches in this scheme," said Baylor President Robert Sloan.

Saturday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published portions of three recordings made by Abar Rouse, an assistant to head coach Dave Bliss. In the tapes, Bliss is heard directing players to tell investigators that Dennehy had paid his tuition by dealing drugs.

The tapes also show that Bliss knew some players smoked marijuana and that Baylor coaches were lying when they said publicly they had no knowledge that a teammate had made threats against Dennehy.

"Dave Bliss' attempts to conceal from investigators the truth about improprieties in our men's basketball program represent a profound betrayal of the trust that Baylor University and our players placed in him," Sloan said.

"The Baylor Board of Regents and all the Baylor family feels a huge sense of betrayal and anger about the actions taken by the former basketball coach," said Drayton McLane, chairman of Baylor's Board of Regents.

Dennehy was last seen June 12. During the six-week search that followed, reports started emerging that he had received improper payments for playing Baylor basketball.

According to the Star-Telegram report, Bliss then allegedly started figuring out a way of explaining to university investigators how a non-scholarship player like Dennehy could afford private school tuition and a new SUV.

Assistant coach taped conversations with wire

The evidence, according to the newspaper, is in taped conversations between Bliss and Rouse. The paper said Rouse provided them with the microcassette recordings, which were three hours in length.

CNN spoke with Kirk Watson, the lead investigator on the Baylor committee looking into the case, who said he had heard the tapes. Watson said Rouse had the microcassette recorder in his pants and taped a wire to his chest.

Rouse decided to tape the conversations because he felt uncomfortable with the conversations Bliss was having with him and the players, Watson told CNN.

The recordings were made July 30, 31, and Aug. 1 -- days after Dennehy's body was found and just a week before his funeral, which Bliss attended.

Dennehy's friend and teammate, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with the killing. An autopsy showed Dennehy died from two gunshots to the head, both above his right ear.

The autopsy also showed Dennehy had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he died.

According to excerpts in the Star-Telegram, two players acknowledged to Bliss they had smoked marijuana with Dennehy, but neither said he had seen Dennehy use or sell harder drugs.

Tray of drugs and a roll of $100 bills

"First of all, nobody is ever going to know about the fact you might have smoked weed with the guys," Bliss tells one player in a taped July 31 conversation. "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 had to kind of make some things look a little better than they are, that can save us."

Bliss then added, "Dennehy is never going to refute what we say."

Bliss also suggests that players tell investigators they saw Dennehy with a tray of drugs and a roll of $100 bills, the paper says.

Watson said investigators presented Bliss with the contents of the tape and asked him directly about several of his quotes. Bliss' reaction was one of surprise, Watson said.

"Obviously he was surprised and shocked," said Watson. "He did not know he was being tape-recorded. ... He was emotional and he said it was disturbing."

Bliss hasn't made any public appearances since leaving Baylor. Repeated attempts to reach him or Rouse have been unsuccessful.

Bliss did tell the Fort Worth newspaper that he knows he has disappointed many people, and that he "was completely wrong in what I did."

Coach: 'We followed the rules'

Bliss has always praised Dennehy in public. He has also publicly denied that any NCAA basketball rules were broken, or that he knew of any drug use.

"We followed the rules, however difficult they may be, for 30 years," he said at a July 28 news conference.

About charges regarding drug use by team members, Bliss said in July that he was "appalled" to hear of them.

"For us to be perceived as having a drug problem, it couldn't be further from the truth," Bliss said at the time. "There may be an individual that has certain problems, I don't know about that, but I do know we have one of the most sound and supportive drug policies."

Bliss resigned as head coach Aug. 8 after the university investigation began finding evidence of NCAA violations. In announcing his departure, Bliss claimed to have just learned about the problems.

"Today I was made aware of some situations within our program after meeting with the inquiry committee that rules were broken," he said.

Watson told CNN that Bliss resigned because the investigating committee had evidence that demonstrated he had paid tuition for two of his students, which was against the rules. When confronted with the evidence, Watson said, Bliss admitted to paying the tuition through his own bank account.

"The attempted cover-up failed, and the investigation continues," Sloan said. "Our investigative committee will continue to aggressively pursue the truth until we are satisfied that a thorough and credible examination of our men's basketball program has been completed."

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