Hiring Drew a bright moment in Baylor's dark summer
WACO, Texas -- Finally, there was good news for Baylor. A basketball program that had become synonymous with scandal this summer took a huge step toward feeling good again with the hiring of new head coach Scott Drew.
"Together, we're going to build something here," Drew said Friday. "And I can't wait for the ride."
But how long will it last?
Baylor's investigative committee continues its work, the NCAA must still be dealt with and the father of slain player Patrick Dennehy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.
Former coach Dave Bliss's attempted coverup of misdeeds in the program -- including a scheme to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer -- is still the talk of the town.
But Drew brings a message of hope. Even as rain poured outside the Ferrell Center when he was introduced to Baylor fans, the 32-year-old coach's youthful optimism told them the dark days are ending.
"It makes it easier to move on," said Baylor guard Matt Sayman. "Otherwise we might have been stuck in the past. It's good to move forward."
Drew said he had watched the Baylor program unravel "from afar."
"What has happened was very sad and tragic," he said. "But at the same time ... is this all Waco is about? Is this all Baylor is about? After meeting with the leaders of this university, the people I've met in the community, some of the students and players, I think Baylor and Waco have a lot more to offer than what has been shown so far."
Drew's job is to find the best in Baylor and bring it out. It won't be easy.
With only one year of experience as head coach at Valparaiso, he has a reported six-year deal worth about $3 million at Baylor.
At Valparaiso, he spent nine years as an assistant under his dad, Homer Drew, before leading the Crusaders to a 20-11 record, the Mid-Continent regular season title and the National Invitation Tournament last season.
University President Robert Sloan, a Baptist minister who called Drew's hiring a "great day in the history of Baylor," preached patience with the youngest coach in the Big 12, one of the roughest conferences in the country.
"We had a breakdown. We had a failure," Sloan said of the scandals. "All of us are going to have to be very patient."
Even if its image can be repaired, the team is sure to take its lumps on the floor. Drew's first job is to fill out a roster for the 2003-04 schedule.
Two key players, Lawrence Roberts and Kenny Taylor, and a few others have said they will transfer, but Drew's arrival seemed to put the brakes on the departures. The new coach met with several players who had been considering leaving and many said Friday they would stay.
"It seems like yesterday (Thursday) it was raining," said senior forward Terrance Thomas. "Today, for the first time in a long time, it's sunny."
Drew said he may search the rosters of other sports for athletes and could hold campus tryouts to put bodies in uniforms.
"The challenges are pretty obvious," Drew said. "That's why we're going to an optimistic stage."
Drew's hiring might be just the eye of the hurricane.
Baylor investigators said this week there's no end in sight to their inquiry, and media from around the state continue to probe for problems. Baylor has already self-imposed two years probation on the program and the team will not play in the Big 12 tournament next season.
Eventually, the school will turn over its findings to the NCAA, which could levy more punishment, such as loss of scholarships.
Sloan himself is the subject of campus debate over his leadership during the basketball scandal and his drive to make Baylor a top-tier university while strengthening its Christian mission.
And legal questions linger.
Baylor investigators say they'll make available to local prosecutors the evidence of Bliss's attempted coverup, which included attempts to get an assistant coach and players to lie to investigators.
And the lawsuit filed by Dennehy's family said the school should be held responsible for his death. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and names the university, Bliss, Sloan, former athletic director Tom Stanton and others associated with the program as defendants.
Dennehy was found shot to death July 25, and former Baylor player Carlton Dotson remains in a Maryland jail awaiting extradition to Texas to face charges in the death.
"It's definitely a David vs. Goliath situation," Drew said. "David did beat Goliath."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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