It may just be a preparatory school, and it may just be Bryan, Texas, but the hiring of former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss—the man that put the Bears men’s hoops team in the dump for five years prior to Scott Drew resurrecting the program—as Allen Academy's new head coach begs just one major question.
Is Bliss’ hiring a wise decision?
First and foremost, let’s look at the facts that led to Bliss’ resignation at Baylor in 2003, and more importantly (and sadly), the death of a former player, and the ensuing attempted cover-up by the man that is now the new head coach at Allen Academy.
In one of the worst cases of NCAA wrongdoings in America, it was revealed through secretly taped recordings by a former assistant coach at Baylor, that Bliss had partially paid for two Baylor student-athletes’ tuition, including Patrick Dennehy, the player who was shot to death execution-style at the hands of his roommate and teammate, Carlton Dotson, who was later convicted of the crime, in June 2003.
In the recordings, it was also revealed that Bliss knew of drug use by his players, that he not only hid positive test results, but that he also used that knowledge in an attempt to help cover-up the fact he was paying off part of Dennehy’s tuition by labeling him as a drug dealer.
“If there’s any way that we can even create the perception of the fact that Pat [Dennehy] 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 was recorded as telling an assistant coach, as reported by Sports Illustrated , during the investigation into the scandal.
Bliss resigned from Baylor in August 2003, and was banned from coaching at the NCAA level until 2015, unless his hire is approved by the NCAA infractions committee.
Plain and simple, in my opinion, Bliss shouldn’t ever be allowed to coach again at any level.
But Bliss feels differently about the entire situation, saying he’s just happy to be back on the hardwood and impacting kids’ lives.
“Having gone through what I went through, some people would think you would miss the money and the fame of Division I coaching,” Bliss told reporters during an interview Friday. “But the part that I really missed was being around young people and being around my players and being on a campus in an educational setting, because that’s all I’ve known for most of my life.
“This is a great school for this period—a place that offers the community an opportunity for a first-class education and an opportunity to compete athletically as well.”
According to reports, Bliss was an unanimous decision for the position when he was approved for the coaching job during Thursday’s academy board of regents meeting, and he was endorsed by former Baylor president Robert Sloan, as well.
Also, KBTX is reporting that Bliss will hold the titles of athletic director and dean of students at Allen Academy, in addition to his position as varsity basketball coach.
Bliss is back in basketball, and he’s just a short drive down Highway 6 from the school he left in disarray due to poor choices and an attempted cover-up.
But maybe it’s time to forgive and forget; what do you think?
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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