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Sources: Lucas Sr. being considered as interim coach

ESPN.com news services

WACO, Texas -- In the wake of resignations by the Baylor men's basketball coach and the athletic director, a member of a committee investigating possible NCAA rules violations by the team said the work is far from over.

Coach Dave Bliss resigned Friday after school investigators discovered violations within his program involving improper financial aid and drug tests that were not properly reported.

Having known Dave Bliss a long time, his heart has always been in the right place.

From when he was on one of the great staffs in college basketball at Indiana, during his days at Cornell and over the years at places like New Mexico and Baylor, there is no doubt in my mind that he holds his athletes close to his heart.

But the bottom line is, nobody could blame Baylor president Robert Sloan for asking for the resignations of Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton.

Think about this: How in the world could Bliss or his staff walk into a student-athlete's home in a recruiting situation now? More...

Those infractions were described as "major violations" by school president Robert Sloan, who announced self-imposed sanctions on the basketball program at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Baylor will not participate in any postseason tournaments next year -- including the Big 12 tournament -- and is under probation for up to two years. The NCAA could still decide to issue additional sanctions.

Bliss' resignation, along with that of athletic director Tom Stanton, came a day after the memorial service for junior forward Patrick Dennehy, whose body was found last month near a rock quarry about six weeks after he was last seen. His former teammate and roommate Carlton Dotson has been charged with his murder.

Bliss told ESPN.com's Andy Katz following the news conference that after returning Thursday night from Dennehy's memorial service in San Jose, he made a request Friday morning to meet with school investigators to check on their progress.

At that meeting, the investigators informed Bliss that they had met with Dennehy's girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa, in Albuquerque, N.M., earlier this week. The investigators said De La Rosa had disclosed to them information concerning monetary violations involving Dennehy and Baylor assistant coach Rodney Belcher.

Bliss resigned after that meeting.

Sloan said the school hadn't even thought yet about how it will replace Bliss, but sources at Baylor told Katz that former NBA player and coach John Lucas Sr. has been discussed as an interim coaching possibility. Lucas' son, John Lucas Jr., is a member of the Baylor basketball team.

The sources also told Katz that there is a good likelihood of the remaining players staying with the program if Lucas is named as the interim coach. According to Katz, three other candidates interested in talking to Baylor are Sam Houston State's Bob Marlin, Southwest Missouri State's Barry Hinson and Texas-Pan American's Bob Hoffman.

In putting the program on probation at least two years, Sloan is allowing any player to transfer.

Baylor has been mired in tragedy and turmoil since Dennehy, a junior forward, disappeared earlier this summer. The school started an investigation into Bliss' program after Dennehy's disappearance.

"I'm the head coach, and I'm accountable for everything that goes on in my program," Bliss said. "I accept that responsibility. I intend to cooperate fully as the inquiry continues. I'll do whatever I can to make things right."

Bliss told Katz that he should have been aware of Belcher's alleged transgressions but that Belcher loved Dennehy like a son. Belcher also has resigned.

Baylor's other full-time assistant, Doug Ash, has been asked to stay on during the transitional period even though he also wants to resign, according to Katz. Bliss and Ash are the nation's longest-tenured head coach/assistant coach pair, having worked together at Oklahoma, SMU and New Mexico before their stint at Baylor.

Ash was calling players Friday to let them know about Bliss' resignation. Bliss plans to speak with his now-former players on Saturday.

Kirk Watson, a lawyer and former Austin mayor who is on Baylor's internal investigative committee, said resignations by Bliss and Stanton were "a strong effort to begin getting to the bottom of these accusations in a rapid fashion."

"While significant progress has been made in a very short time, this investigation is not over," Watson said.

Others involved in the school also were saddened by the events of the day but realized that changes were needed.

"As a regent, as a member of the Baylor family, it's a sad day and a very tough day," Fort Worth resident Carl W. Bell, a three-year member of the regents' athletic committee, told The Dallas Morning News. "I'm sad for coach Bliss because he is a good coach and a good man. It would appear from every indication that mistakes have been made."

Bell, majority owner of Fort Worth's Cats baseball team, praised Sloan for appointing an investigative committee.

"We're going to fix the problems, and we're going to move forward," Bell told the Morning News.

Sloan said two players -- whose names he did not provide -- had their scholarships paid for by a third party. A school statement said, "the head men's basketball coach has admitted involvement in these infractions."

"Additional sanctions may be imposed as the investigation continues," Sloan said.

Sloan also said there were "instances in which staff members had knowledge of student-athletes' use of substances on the list of banned drugs and failed to follow institutional procedures." He said all future drug screening will be done by nurses at Baylor Health Center.

Bliss told Katz that the "5/8" rule, which places limits on the number of scholarships a school can offer to incoming players over one- and two-year periods, had prevented Baylor from giving Dennehy a scholarship when he arrived last year.

Although the team had an open scholarship, it already had granted scholarships to five other newcomers and therefore could not offer one to Dennehy. Instead, the open scholarship was granted to walk-on Andre White.

Bliss did not answer questions after his brief resignation announcement. Stanton joined Sloan at a news conference after Bliss's announcement but did not speak.

Although no immediate statement was made about Sloan's own future at the school, sources at Baylor told Katz that the president may be in danger of losing his job, as well. Sloan already is under fire for an expensive school infrastructure-rebuilding program.

On July 28, Bliss denied committing NCAA rules violations, stating, "We have followed the rules, however difficult they may be, for 30 years." He also said that, as far as he knew, his players had no more to do with drugs "than the man in the moon."

The NCAA has never cited one of Bliss' programs for any infractions, although that's likely to happen in this case.

Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university, with 14,000 students, has been placed on NCAA probation twice since 1986.

Bliss, 59, has been a Division I coach for 28 seasons, working previously at Oklahoma, SMU and New Mexico. He arrived at Baylor in 1999 and went 61-57 in four seasons. The Bears were 14-14 last season, 5-11 in conference play.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last week that Bliss left SMU months after an NCAA investigation uncovered evidence of what typically would be considered major rules violations, including booster payments to a player. Bliss was never cited for any infractions.

Baylor began its probe after allegations surfaced that a coach told Dennehy his education and living expenses would be paid if he gave up his scholarship for a year to another player. Dennehy had to sit out last season because of NCAA rules after he transferred from New Mexico to Baylor.

The committee also examined whether Dennehy received $1,200 to $1,800 from a coach toward a car loan for his sport utility vehicle and whether players passed urine tests despite smoking marijuana.

The NCAA put Baylor on five-year probation in 1994 after an investigation found that coaches were illegally doing correspondence work for players. An FBI inquiry resulted in mail and wire fraud convictions against three assistant coaches. Former head coach Darrel Johnson was fired.

In 1986, the Baylor basketball team was slapped with a two-year probation after the NCAA said it provided cash, transportation and other illegal benefits to players. A player secretly recorded a conversation in which former head coach Jim Haller agreed to give him $172 for a car payment.

Stanton was in his sixth year as AD at his alma mater. In addition to Bliss, he also hired football coaches Kevin Steele and Guy Morriss and women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson.

During his tenure, the school spent more than $30 million on facilities, including a baseball stadium, a softball stadium, a soccer field, a tennis center and a golf course.

After getting his bachelor's and master's degrees from the school, he spent 22 years with an international Christian communications company, and then returned in July 1995 as director of athletic marketing and promotions. He became AD in February 1996.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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 Broken Rules
Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss and president Robert Sloan announce Bliss' resignation.
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ESPN's Andy Katz looks at the road ahead for the Baylor basketball program.
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