Senior R.T. Guinn says he was `betrayed' by Bliss and his scheme

Updated: August 20, 2003, 11:57 PM ET

WACO, Texas -- One of the Baylor players recruited by former basketball coach Dave Bliss for a plot to cover up rules violations says he provided false testimony to investigators out of a sense of loyalty to the coach.

But Bears senior center R.T. Guinn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a copyright story in its Thursday edition that he was confused about Bliss' motives at the time and now feels betrayed.

Speaking publicly for the first time since secret tape recordings identified him as one of three players Bliss tried to draw into his scheme to portray slain teammate Patrick Dennehy as a drug dealer, Guinn told the newspaper Wednesday that he believed Bliss put him in a compromising position.

But Guinn said Bliss worded statements to make him comfortable, assured him law enforcement and Baylor investigators were on his side and that his testimony would help save the program.

"I had mixed feelings. I was confused," Guinn said. "I was thinking it was wrong. But the way everything was worded, it had thrown me off and that's what made me, I guess, like, second-guess it."

Guinn said he didn't know what to think of the scheme at the time.

"I've always been one that tries to do what I'm told, especially by my elders," Guinn said. "I mean, it was weird. I still don't know why, exactly, I went along with it. It was more out of respect for him."

Bliss resigned on Aug. 8 after the Baylor investigative committee found major violations of NCAA rules, including improper payments to two players and improper handling of drug tests.

The investigation into improprieties in the basketball program came as a result of the criminal investigation into Dennehy's death. Former Baylor player Carlton Dotson is in a Maryland jail, accused of killing Dennehy.

Guinn, 22, said he still plans to return to Baylor, mostly to earn his degree. He is set to graduate after the spring semester with a degree in education and wants to be a college basketball coach.

"I just don't think it would feel right or be right for me to go here for so long and then graduate from somewhere else," he said. "It's more in just self-pride."

But the senior also has obtained his release from Baylor and the NCAA has ruled that he will be allowed to transfer to another school without giving up his final year of eligibility -- provided he doesn't face NCAA penalties for the statements he made.

It is common for student-athletes cited for lying to investigators to be stripped of a significant amount of their remaining eligibility, said Janet Justus, a former NCAA director of eligibility who is now an attorney in Kansas City, Kan.

But she told the Star-Telegram that coercion from a coach would likely be a viewed as a mitigating factor and would result in a lesser penalty.

"Lying to an NCAA rep or the institution obviously is unethical conduct," she said.

Guinn said he's worried he won't be able to finish his college career.

"But if they did [take away eligibility ], I would consider it my fault because it was my actions," he said.

Secret tape recordings made July 30 and 31 and Aug. 1 by assistant coach Abar Rouse, revealed Bliss coaching two players to embellish their statements about Dennehy to law enforcement officials and the Baylor investigators.

Guinn said by that time, he had already talked to the Waco Police Department, the McLennan County Sheriff's Department and the Baylor committee.

But Guinn said the Baylor committee called him in for more questioning on Friday, the same day Rouse gave the tapes to the committee, and he did as his coach wanted.

Guinn said he did not embellish his story to any law enforcement agency.

According to a taped conversation on Aug. 1, which included Bliss, Rouse, Guinn and teammate Ellis Kidd Jr., Bliss told the two players that the Sheriff's Department would be reinterviewing witnesses because it had taken over the case.

Bliss told them: "This time it will matter more than last time ... You guys are going to do super on this."

In the tapes, Bliss says player Harvey Thomas will also go along with the scheme, but the tapes do not include a conversation with Thomas.

Guinn said he and Kidd spoke after meeting with Bliss and didn't understand why he wanted them to enhance their stories. Guinn said he did not know if Kidd also embellished his story to the committee.

Kidd could not be reached by the newspaper for comment.

"We never really came to one [conclusion ] until pretty much after it was already over and done with and we both realized we shouldn't have done that," Guinn said,

Guinn said he still respects Bliss but feels betrayed.

"Learning how to deal with it has been tough," Guinn said. "I don't know. I know I feel partly betrayed. I don't know what the rest of it is. It's either confusion or just not knowing what to do. ..."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index