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August 20, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, August 20th

Baylor Gate: Baylor’s in-house investigation panel yesterday listened to the tapes of ousted head coach Dave Bliss plotting to re-direct accusations of NCAA violations on the recently deceased Patrick Dennehy. The panel made copies available to local authorities to determine if any laws had been broken, other than, you know, obstruction of justice, as one player went with the company line during questioning, and then recanted. In a chat with alumni, Baylor president Robert Sloan was asked why he didn’t resign along with AD Tom Stanton, who will be gone by the end of the week. Sloan indicated that he served at the will of the board of trustees, and also stated that he remained committed to fielding a team this season, even as more players are jumping ship.

Speaking of, junior forward Kenny Taylor announced that he is transferring to Texas. Taylor, who still must have his mandatory NCAA one-year transfer requirement waived, must also have a similar Big 12 rule prohibiting intra-conference transfers waived. Taylor said he had spoken with former Longhorn T.J. Ford about the decision, as both Ford and Taylor were on the same Willowridge High School team in Sugarland, Texas. Yesterday Baylor’s top player, Lawrence Roberts, announced that he is transferring to Mississippi State, and recruit Tyrone Nelson has enrolled at Prairie View A&M Junior guard John Lucas III, sophomore forward Tommy Swanson and junior college transfer Harvey Thomas have all asked for their release, but have not signed with any other team as of yet. Senior R.T. Guinn is rumored to be considering San Diego State, and he hasn’t even requested his release yet. Other players are waiting until a new coach is named, but eleven days into the three-week search process, most of the favorites for the position haven’t even been contacted, including Texas Pan-American’s Bob Hoffman, Sam Houston State’s Bob Marlin, and Indiana’s assistant coach John Treloar.

Meanwhile, Laura Collins-Hays, a former admin to Bliss until her resignation in March 2002, told the Dallas Morning News that she was often frightened by Bliss’ behavior and his treatment of players. She had reported a fall 2001 altercation between Bliss and player Greg Davis to Jaffus Hardrick, the university’s director of personnel services, and was allegedly told, “He doesn’t act like that. Go back to work.” Collins-Hays also alleges that during her employ Bliss destroyed several phones by throwing them across his office; that Bliss started the Sixth Man Club, which had assistant coach Brian O’Neill handling $1,500 gifts from members; and that two players, Wendell Greenleaf and DeMarcus Minor, had car leases paid by Baylor officials. After being given the runaround in her attempts to bring the incidents to the administration’s attention, she resigned. Nice.

Lastly, Kent County (Maryland) District Judge Floyd Parks agreed to keep former Baylor player Carlton Dotson in jail for 60 more days. This will allow the attorneys to work out the legal issues involved in extraditing Dotson to Texas to face charges for the murder of Patrick Dennehy. Dotson may also petition Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., the governor of Maryland for a “governor’s hearing,” which would allow Dotson to plead his case against extradition personally to the governor. Only Maryland and South Carolina have this law. Dotson remains in the county jail without bond since his arrest July 21st.

Won’t Slow Down: Even as his cancer had progressed from Stage 2 to Stage 4, New Mexico State head coach Lou Henson vowed to fight – and coach. Henson, 71, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last month. Stage 2 cancer is isolated to specific organs, while a Stage 4 classification indicates the cancer has spread to multiple organs. In his first press conference since the diagnosis, Henson stated that, “I feel good, I feel energetic . . . I played nine holes of golf on Friday and 18 on Sunday. I plan on doing all the things I did before. In a stressful job, you have to stay in shape and that will help now . . . There is no reason why you can’t function with this type of cancer.” Henson has a 762-386 all-time coaching record in 40 seasons, including 15 seasons with New Mexico State.

More Mizzou: Not only is the NCAA investigating allegations of improper benefits and academic fraud at Missouri in regard to former Tiger Ricky Clemons, now the FBI is getting involved. Boone County authorities have provided the FBI with hours of tapes of phone calls made by Clemons from prison, where he’s currently finishing up a 60-day sentences for assault against his ex-girlfriend. Of course the feds declined to comment on why they would be interested in Clemons. Clemons will be released from prison this Sunday.

Pitt Stop: Pittsburgh has announced that they will host a six-team tournament prior to the Christmas holiday that will feature the Panthers playing four home games in six days. The tournament, which still has the details being ironed out – including the name – will run from December 17th-22nd, and will feature Florida State, Wagner, Eastern Michigan, Murray State and Chicago State. The event will be scripted, so there will be no bracket – think round robin here – and will be an exempt tournament, so each school will be charged with only one game against their NCAA mandated cap of 27 games.

Gael Bennett: St. Mary’s (California) head coach Randy Bennett has agreed to a five year contract extension through the 2007-08 season. Bennett has led the Gaels to a 24-35 record in two seasons, but the extension comes on the heels of a 15-15 season and Bennett’ two West Coast Conference semifinals appearances. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On Tour: Illinois wrapped up its tour of Scandinavia with a 101-67 win over Tallinn A. Le Coq of Estonia. Dee Brown scored 19 points and James Augustine had a 12/10 double-double. Iowa, playing down under, notched a victory against the Brisbane Bullets 101-92 to go 2-1 on its Australian tour. The Hawkeyes were led by Brody Boyd’s 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from three-point land, and four others scored in double digits. Iowa has two more games scheduled, facing the Brisbane Capitals and the Kuiyam Pride. Brigham Young also has been playing on an Australian tour, but lost 108-105 to the Cairns Taipans. BYU, who is now 3-2 on their trip, was led by Mark Bigelow, who is getting plenty of ink having led the Cougars in scoring in all five games, averaging almost 22 points per game, and center Rafael Araujo notched 23 points and 10 boards. Oy!

Access Denied: San Diego State denied admission to 6-10 National Christian Academy (Fort Washington, Maryland) center Jabbar Young after he failed to get academic approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse. The Aztecs look to be holding up to their recent policy shift not to sign academic non-qualifiers. The school will continue to monitor Young’s academic progress, as he will enroll in an area JuCo.

Old Adidas: Legendary shoe promoter Sonny Vaccaro has announced that he is resigning from Adidas (no we won’t placate to their lower-case “a”). Vaccaro, probably the best-known basketball shoe promoter this side of Chuck Taylor, first worked for Nike in the 80s and developed the Michael Jordan “Air Jordan” brand, created high school talent camps, and first signed college coaches to outfit their players with the Swoosh. In 1992, he jumped to Adidas, and re-built their basketball presence by signing T-Mac and Kobe out of high school before they had played an NBA game. Vaccaro announced that he will still run his ABCD summer camp, the Big Time Tournament and the Roundball classic.

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