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Former Baylor Assistant Abar Rouse Should Be Given an Opportunity

UNDATED PHOTO:  (FILE PHOTO) Baylor University basketball player Patrick Dennehy is seen in this undated photo. According to court papers filed June 30, 2003, an informant told police that Dennehy, who has been missing for more than two weeks, was shot and killed by a former teammate. The 21-year-old's sport utility vehicle, with its license plates removed, was found abandoned in a mall parking lot in Virginia last week.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images
Kevin LindseyAnalyst IMarch 28, 2010

In the face of pressure to conform and go along with the crowd, he stood in opposition

While his leader sold his soul to the devil, he was the person who did the right thing.

Scandals are an unfortunate part of college basketball.  Some scandals are minor, such as too many phone calls or too many letters sent at the wrong time of the year. 

Some scandals are so significant that they cause us to pause and ask us how this could happen. 

Then there was the scandal that occurred at Baylor in 2003 under Coach Dave Bliss.

The scandal under Bliss at Baylor was so salacious that had the story been made into a movie, everyone sitting in the audience would be shaking their head in disbelief at the screen.

How could things go so horribly wrong at Baylor? 

How could a teammate and roommate, Carlton Dotson, shoot and kill another teammate and roommate, Patrick Dennehy, with two gunshots behind the right ear?

If the murder of a teammate was not terrible enough, the cover-up after the murder was even worse.

Coach Bliss try to hide the fact that he had made illegal under-the-table payments to Dennehy to get him to come to Baylor. 

The plan cooked up by Bliss was that the coaching staff would paint Dennehy, pictured above, as a drug dealer, thereby providing an explanation for any money that Bliss had given Dennehy.

Rouse told Bliss that he wasn’t comfortable with the plan suggested by Bliss.  According to one newspaper account, Bliss showed Rouse a copy of his contract, the language of Rouse’s contract where it clearly stated that Bliss could hire and fire assistant coaches at his sole discretion was highlighted.

Rouse fearing that he might be fired, did what many employees would do in a situation in which their boss told them to engage in illegal or unethical behavior.  Rouse tape-recorded his conversation with Bliss.

Bliss, on tape, told Rouse, “Our whole thing right now, we can get out of this. Reasonable doubt is there's nobody right now that can say we paid Pat Dennehy because he's dead. So what we need to do is create reasonable doubt.[1] "

Rouse turned over the tape to the NCAA.  Bliss and Baylor’s athletic director, Tom Stanton, resigned.  Bliss, as well as assistant coaches Rodney Belcher and Doug Ash, were each hit with show-cause orders which means that a college would have to appeal their suspension before proceeding to hire them.  Rouse received no penalty.

Rouse was not retained as an assistant with Coach Drew took over the Baylor program.  Rouse has only subsequently received one part-time college coaching position since he left Baylor, the position paid him an annual salary of $8,000.  Rouse was paid $42,000 a year at Baylor.

Why has Rouse been shunned by the coaching fraternity?  Rouse broke the unspoken rule of the coaching profession; he didn’t keep his mouth shut.

In 2003, on “Outside the Lines,” Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski was quoted as saying, “If one of my assistants would tape every one of my conversation with me not knowing it, there’s no way he would be on my staff[2] .” 

The sentiment expressed by Coach Krzyzewski appears to be the feeling held by several Division I head coaches.

Ironic or is it fate that Duke is now playing Baylor for a chance to go to the Final Four?

As a graduate of Baylor and as a Christian, Rouse however thought he was obligated to the right thing by Dennehy and his school. 

Rouse should have been able to find a job as an assistant coach.   Rouse did what was right when it would have been easy to take the easy way out and lied about Dennehy.

The return of Baylor to the national spotlight seems hollow without Rouse on the college scene. 

The NCAA coaching community and fraternity needs to do the right thing.  Rouse deserves another opportunity to coach at the Division I level.



[1] Rouse in oblivion five years after Baylor scandal, ESPN, Dana O’Neill, May 6, 2008.

[2] Id.

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