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Panel wants background checks for recruits

All student-athletes transferring to Baylor University should
undergo criminal background checks and allow access to records of
disciplinary actions at previous colleges, a task force said
Monday.

Several recruiting policy recommendations were made by the Waco
university's task force, formed to address NCAA violations and
other problems discovered last summer after Baylor basketball
player Patrick Dennehy was killed. His former teammate, Carlton
Dotson, was charged with murder and is jailed in Waco awaiting an
August trial.

Dennehy and Dotson transferred to Baylor in the summer of 2002,
but Baylor officials said there's no way to predict what would have
happened if the policies had been in place.

The task force also recommended requiring all prospective
student-athletes -- incoming freshmen as well as transfers -- to
provide three character references. The references must use a
Baylor form designed to evaluate social decision making, peer group
interactions, dependability, self-discipline and contributions to
the community.

"With the successful implementation of these measures, we
certainly think we can avoid any type of situation that is going to
cause embarrassment to Baylor," said Ian McCaw, Baylor's athletic
director since September. "This really demonstrates a commitment
to the student-athletes' welfare and success."

Also for the first time, a committee appointed by Baylor's
president would review the reference and background information on
prospective transfers before they are accepted. Information on
freshmen would be reviewed by the athletic department.

Baylor's president, Robert Sloan, is expected to approve the
recommendations. They would be implemented gradually, starting with
recruits for 2005-06 in one men's sport and one women's. The school
hasn't decided which sports.

The 6-foot-10 Dennehy played two years at the University of New
Mexico, where his sophomore season was clouded by problems. During
a game in 2002 Dennehy shoved a teammate, kicked over a chair and
stalked off to the locker room.

Because of NCAA eligibility rules, Dennehy sat out the 2002-03
season at Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university with
nearly 14,000 students.

Dotson, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Paris Junior College in East
Texas, was eligible to play at Baylor but his role on the team
steadily decreased. By the end of the 2002-03 season, he and
then-coach Dave Bliss agreed that Dotson should play elsewhere, and
his scholarship was dropped.

Dennehy's body was found in a field near campus in July after he
had been missing about six weeks. He had been shot twice in the
head, according to an autopsy report.

Dotson was arrested a few days before his friend was found, but
authorities won't say if he led them to Dennehy's body. Dotson's
attorneys say they have not decided whether to seek an insanity
defense.

In August, Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned amid
revelations that Bliss paid up to $40,000 for two players' tuition,
and that staff members did not properly report some athletes'
failed drug tests.

The task force was formed in March at the suggestion of an
internal investigative committee, which submitted its findings to
the NCAA in February after a seven-month probe.

That committee came up with self-imposed sanctions, 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.

Also Monday, the task force said Baylor should maintain its
current academic requirements for student-athletes, saying the
standards already are higher than NCAA regulations.