Elsey says Bliss promised aid for law school

Updated: January 8, 2004, 12:04 PM ET
Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- A former Baylor University basketball player has filed a lawsuit claiming former coach Dave Bliss broke a promise to help the athlete get into law school and to pay for it.

Chad Elsey is seeking more than $100,000 in damages -- including the cost of tuition and books for another law school -- from Bliss and Baylor. Elsey, who is representing himself, filed the breach of contract suit Monday in Waco.

Elsey, a law student at the University of Tulsa, graduated from Baylor with a finance degree in December 2001, according to the team's media guide.

A 6-foot-6 forward, Elsey transferred to Baylor from SMU in 1999. After sitting out a season because of NCAA transfer rules, Elsey played two seasons at Baylor, averaging 6 points and 2.3 rebounds a game.

He did not return calls Wednesday to the Waco Tribune-Herald. His mother, Lori Elsey, declined comment to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The suit alleges that during a campus tour, Bliss promised to pay for Elsey's law school tuition. Elsey claims he asked Bliss about possible NCAA penalties.

"Bliss explained that there were ways around NCAA rules," the suit says. "Bliss further promised (Elsey) that he had connections at the law school and gaining admittance for one of his players was 'no problem.'"

Revelations of Baylor's NCAA violations surfaced last summer after basketball player Patrick Dennehy disappeared and was found dead six weeks later. His former teammate, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with murder and is jailed in Waco awaiting trial.

Bliss resigned in August after the Baylor investigative committee discovered that Dennehy and another player received improper tuition payments. Committee members have said they believe Bliss was the source of the money.

Later, a tape secretly recorded by an assistant coach revealed that Bliss suggested that some players tell investigators that Dennehy paid his tuition by dealing drugs.

Bliss has since moved to Lakewood, Colo., a Denver suburb. Bliss' wife, Claudia, said Wednesday that Bliss was at work at a sporting goods store and was not available for comment.

Bliss' attorney, Mike McCue of Dallas, said the former coach "categorically denies" that he promised Elsey admission to or payment for Baylor Law School.

Noley Bice, Baylor's general counsel, said Baylor and its in-house investigation committee have reviewed Elsey's suit and that it seems to lack merit.

Elsey's action is the second basketball-related lawsuit against the university since Dennehy's death. Patrick Dennehy Sr., has filed suit asserting that his son was killed after he decided to expose irregularities in the basketball program.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press