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NCAA could accept or levy harshier penalties

2/27/2004 - Baylor Bears

WACO, Texas -- After a painful self-examination of a
basketball program run amok, Baylor will turn its findings over to
the NCAA to decide if self-imposed sanctions are enough to atone
for the misdeeds of former coach Dave Bliss.

The NCAA is under no deadline to address the major infractions
acknowledged by the school's internal investigation. Among the
violations detailed by the school president Thursday were payments
to players and efforts to cover up wrongdoing.

School officials suggest it could take a year for the NCAA to
resolve the case. The NCAA could accept Baylor's sanctions, levy
harsher penalties or even recommend lesser ones, which would be
unusual but not unprecedented.

"There is a sense of relief that we've passed by one of the
hurdles," said Baylor law professor Bill Underwood, a member of
Baylor's investigation panel. "(But) it's not the end."

School President Robert Sloan will send the findings to the NCAA
next week with a list of self-imposed sanctions over the next two
years, including reduced scholarships, an extra year of probation
and reduced contact between coaches and recruits. The school had
already banned itself from postseason play this season.

Sloan also called for new policies for drug testing of athletes,
evaluating recruits and administrative housekeeping.

After the NCAA reviews Baylor's report, it will send the school
an official notice detailing alleged violations. Baylor officials
will be allowed to respond.

Eventually, the case will be heard by the NCAA infractions
committee in a closed-door meeting. The school and involved
individuals, including Bliss, will be invited to testify. The NCAA
will not announce the time or place of the meeting. NCAA
spokeswoman Kay Hawes said coaches ensnared in scandals often
attend.

A call to Bliss' attorney Friday was not immediately returned.
Bliss resigned in August and now lives in Colorado.

Hawes declined comment on the Baylor case and could not predict
how long it will take to resolve.

"Every investigation is different," she said. "It's
impossible to know."

Underwood doesn't expect to receive formal notice of violations
for several months. A hearing probably won't happen before
December, he said.

"We've exercised our judgment on what we think is appropriate,
and we hope they agree," Underwood said of the sanctions. "They
don't always, but we hope they do."

The NCAA typically accepts self-imposed sanctions but sometimes
adds more. A school's willingness to cooperate with NCAA
investigators and impose sanctions are considered, Hawes said.

"They don't eradicate the violation," Hawes said. "But they
are considered mitigating circumstances."

NCAA investigators worked closely with Baylor's in-house
investigation and helped coordinate several interviews, Underwood
said. "We talked with them on a very regular basis," he said.

Baylor began the internal investigation last summer when former
player Patrick Dennehy disappeared and was later found dead.
Another former player, Carlton Dotson, is charged with his murder.

Violations cited by the university include improper tuition
payments and other travel, lodging and meal benefits for players
paid for by Bliss. The coach also improperly solicited $87,000 from
Baylor boosters, including two university regents, for a regional
AAU team, the school said.

The scandal is the second to rock the program in the last
decade.

In 1994, Baylor reduced scholarships, banned itself from
postseason play and television appearances and placed itself under
a two-year probation after a recruiting and academic fraud scandal
under former coach Darrel Johnson.

It took about a year for the NCAA to impose its ruling after
Baylor's in-house investigation. In that case, the NCAA found
Baylor had done enough to punish itself and reduced the probation
and postseason ban to one year.