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NCAA memo details booster payments, other infractions

Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss left Southern Methodist University in 1988 after an NCAA investigation uncovered evidence of infractions, according to a copyright newspaper report.

An NCAA memo obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram details several matters that would typically be considered major rules violations, including booster payments to star center Jon Koncak. However, neither Bliss nor SMU received NCAA penalties.

Robert L. Stroup III, the NCAA enforcement representative who wrote the memo, told the newspaper in Saturday editions that he stopped investigating the program at the direction of his supervisor, who said the university had already paid a heavy price by receiving the "death penalty" for violations in the football program.

"It was at a point where there could have been another major (infractions) case, but, back then, cases would take two, three years to complete. It was just kind of decided, 'We gave them the worst (penalty). What more can we do?' " said Stroup, who left the NCAA in 1993 to practice law in Fargo, N.D.

The memo summarizes a report prepared by a Dallas private investigating firm, Southwest Security and Investigations, hired by SMU to review the athletic program after the football program received the death penalty in February 1987.

Bliss declined to be interviewed for the report but said at a news conference Monday that he has always complied with NCAA rules.

"I know that there have been allegations that we haven't followed the rules. We have followed the rules, however difficult they may be, for 30 years," Bliss said.

None of the schools where Bliss has coached have been cited for NCAA infractions while he was there.

Bliss spent eight seasons at SMU, leading the Mustangs to three NCAA Tournament appearances. He left for the head coaching job at the University of New Mexico in May 1988, just months after the private investigators' report was completed.

He was at New Mexico for 11 years before moving to Baylor in 1999.

According to the memo, a major portion of the private investigators' report on his program at SMU involved statements from Koncak, a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and a second-team all-America pick as a senior in 1984-85.

Koncak was quoted as telling the investigators he received at least $2,000 to $5,000 from two boosters during his junior and senior years. The boosters he cited were among the nine whose association with the university's athletic program was ended because of their role in the football scandal.

Koncak was also quoted as saying that he knew of other players who received money in a similar fashion and that he believed "very strongly" that Bliss was aware of the payments.

Bliss has come under scrutiny after the shooting death of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy. A former teammate, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with murder in the case.

University President Robert Sloan has appointed a panel to examine potential NCAA violations, including the possibility that improper financial assistance allowed Dennehy to attend Baylor during the 2002-2003 academic year without an athletic scholarship.

Sloan declined to be interviewed.

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