WACO -- Baylor's incredible basketball revival begins with a sordid tale.
It's one involving the murder of a player by a former teammate
and despicable acts by a now-ex coach.
The Bears (21-10), the last of the 65 teams revealed on
selection Sunday, are the number eleven seed in the NCAA West
Baylor will play its first NCAA tournament game in 20 years --
on Thursday, against number six Purdue (24-8) in Washington.
Scott Drew, the enthusiastic young coach who took over in 2003,
has succeeded in a daunting and unprecedented task.
Five summers ago, former player Patrick Dennehy was murdered.
Carlton Dotson later confessed to the crime and is serving a
35-year prison term.
Things then unraveled quickly in the men's basketball program at
the world's largest Baptist university.
School investigators determined that now-former coach Dave Bliss
paid up to $40,000 in tuition for Dennehy and another player and
improperly solicited $87,000 from boosters.
In an attempt to cover up his indiscretions, Bliss wanted to
portray Dennehy as a drug dealer on tapes secretly recorded by an
Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned. There were
NCAA and school-imposed penalties, including reduced scholarships.
Baylor had only five scholarship players during Drew's first
season, when the overmatched Bears went 8-21 but managed to win
three Big 12 games.
But Drew built the program methodically and attracted quality
players with his infectious optimism.