Publish date:

The Plot Sickens Bliss told players to lie about Dennehy

Valorie and Brian Brabazon, the mother and stepfather of slain
Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy, sat down on Sunday to
ponder a question they have been considering in the days since
Carlton Dotson, Patrick's former teammate, was charged with
killing their son (Dotson has not yet entered a plea): Should
they sue the school and/or former coach Dave Bliss for helping to
create the conditions that may have led to the murder?

Until last weekend the Brabazons were uncertain. But as Brian
Brabazon told SI, their feelings changed after learning of
audiotapes on which Bliss admits he knew about threats made
against Dennehy, which friends say was the reason he and Dotson
purchased guns. Brabazon believes that had Bliss reported the
threats, Dennehy might still be alive. "I consider [Bliss] just
as responsible for Patrick's death as [the murderer] was," says

On the tapes, secretly recorded by assistant coach Abar Rouse and
obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bliss also attempts to
cover up improper payments to Dennehy, urging players to tell
investigators that Dennehy got tuition money from dealing drugs.
"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," Bliss told one player. "Even if we had to kind of make
some things look a little better than they are, that can save
us." Bliss noted that Dennehy couldn't refute the story "because
he's dead."

Bliss's transgressions have already cost him his reported
$600,000-a-year job (he resigned on Aug. 8), and his attempts to
get his players to lie will probably keep him from ever coaching
again. But the scrutiny of his actions is just starting. Baylor
says it will turn over the tapes to the McLennan County (Texas)
district attorney's office, which will review them for possible
criminal violations. Also, the Brabazons now seem intent on
pursuing a civil suit against Bliss (who could not be reached for
comment) and, most likely, Baylor. (President Robert B. Sloan Jr.
said he felt "outraged" by Bliss and that Baylor would continue
to investigate his actions.)

"I want to see Baylor as a whole suffering as much as Patrick's
mom, sister and I are," Brabazon, who is speaking to lawyers,
told SI. Brabazon calls Bliss "callous and cold-hearted,"
recalling how Bliss greeted him at Dennehy's Aug. 7 memorial
service. "He shook my hand while concocting these stories. I'll
make sure he doesn't get a job at Taco Bell." --George Dohrmann
and Melissa Segura

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: DAMON WINTER/REUTERS (BRABAZON, BLISS) SENSE OF LOSS Brabazon calls ex-Baylor coach Bliss (left)coldhearted.