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Dave Bliss repeats dubious claim that murdered Baylor basketball player dealt drugs

Local police still say there is no evidence behind Bliss’ claim, which has long been thought to be a cover-up.

Dave Bliss

Former Baylor basketball head coach Dave Bliss doubled down on claims that murdered Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was a drug dealer, calling him “the worst.” The comments came in a a new sit-down interview for the documentary Disgraced which will air next month on Showtime and premiered Sunday in Austin, Texas.

The film includes comments from Waco police indicating there was never any evidence that Bliss’ claims about Dennehy were true, and it has long been believed that the story was made up by Dennehy and that Bliss told his players to repeat his same claims.

A teammate, Carlton Dotson, pleaded guilty to Dennehy’s 2003 murder shortly before the trial was set to begin. Dotson had originally been sent to a mental institution after being declared unfit to stand trial, and he is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for Dennehy’s murder.

In the film, Bliss reasserted his comments off camera, but his voice could still be heard. From The Houston Chronicle:

"He (Dennehy) was selling drugs. He sold to all the white guys on campus," Bliss said. "... He was the worst."

As he repeated his comments about Dennehy, Bliss said, "You'll never be able to use this," and got out of his chair to continue talking with his face out of camera range but with his voice still audible.

Bliss, now a head coach at Southwest Christian University in Oklahoma, admitted that the drug dealer aspect of the story was emphasized in an attempt to keep his job, but he says the idea came from the investigative committee. Bliss resigned two months after Dennehy’s murder.

In a recent phone interview with the Chronicle, Bliss stood by his comments in the film:

“He failed numerous drug tests,” Bliss said when asked about his comments in the film. “I let his parents know when he failed those tests. Things escalated from there. All I did was repeat what players told me. I stand by what I said.”

The film also raises questions about whether Dotson was mentally fit to plead guilty and understand the charges brought against him. In early 2006, a judge ruled Dotson forfeited his right to an appeal because he pleaded guilty.

Baylor basketball received a decade of various sanctions for its role in the incident. In the past few years, Baylor’s football program has been blasted for sexual assault scandals.