LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Coach Investigating for Allegedly Smearing Murdered Player's Name
Aired August 18, 2003 - 19:06 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Later this hour, we're going to have Court TV's Lisa Bloom stop by. She'll have analysis of the latest legal moves in the Peterson case.
Also, she's going to have analysis of developments in the case of murdered Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy and secretly record conversations involving the former Baylor coach. That does lead us to our next story.
Did the coach of the murdered Baylor basketball play try to get people to lie to investigators? That is one interpretation that has been offered of new tapes that have emerged.
These tapes of Coach Dave Bliss, they are him speaking with an assistant. We tried to reach Bliss for a comment, but he was unavailable.
We will find out what the girlfriend of murdered basketball player Patrick Dennehy thinks. We'll speak with her in just a moment.
First, though, let's bring in Ed Lavandera to fill us in on the details of these tapes.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The news that former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss was allegedly orchestrating a cover-up of NCAA rules violations started making headlines Saturday.
Richard Guinn says he was called early that morning by Bliss. Guinn's son, R.T., is a senior basketball player at Baylor. Bliss came to Guinn's apartment and met with both men for about 45 minutes.
Guinn said Bliss apologized for the way he's acted and his efforts to save the reputation of Baylor's basketball program.
RICHARD GUINN, FATHER OF PLAYER: Shocked, outraged, pissed, upset that anybody would do something like that to these boys. I mean, it just flabbergasted me.
LAVANDERA: The Baylor investigative committee looking into Dave Bliss's actions has uncovered they say are two cases where a player's tuition was paid for improperly. But the revelations of the taped conversations came as a surprise Friday to the investigative team. KIRK WATSON, BAYLOR LEAD COUNSEL: They are very disappointed. They are very disturbing and it's evidence of a real betrayal, a betrayal of the university and significantly also a betrayal of those young people.
LAVANDERA: The conversations were recorded by assistant coach Abar Rouse. A transcript has been published by the "Waco Tribune- Herald," and some portions have been confirmed to CNN by the lead investigator, like this excerpt, where Bliss tells his assistant coach, quote, "We can get out of this. Reasonable doubt is there's nobody right now that can say that we paid Pat Dennehy. Because he's dead. So what we have to do is create the reasonable doubt."
Bliss resigned as head coach on August 8. That day he had said he had just been made aware of the violations within the program. But an investigator tells CNN Bliss's effort to convince some players to lie to investigators was in motion before then.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they put into practice what they were told?
WATSON: We only had one instance where a player had actually followed the script, if you will.
LAVANDERA: Daryn, to be very clear about this, the investigators that we're talking about in this case aren't the investigators that were investigating the death of Patrick Dennehy. That is on the criminal side of this.
However, investigators here for the university who are investigating the NCAA violations say they will turn the tapes over to whichever law enforcement agency feels it's appropriate if they want to continue to investigate this further.
We have tried several times to reach Coach Dave Bliss. We left a note for him at his home today and tried to reach him there, but he still has not chosen to speak with CNN at this point.
All right, Daryn. Back to you.
KAGAN: Ed Lavandera, thank you so much for that.
Well, Jessica De La Rosa was Patrick Dennehy's girlfriend at the time of his murder. She has agreed to join us tonight. She is in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jessica, thanks for being with us.
JESSICA DE LA ROSA, PATRICK DENNEHY'S GIRLFRIEND: Thank you.
KAGAN: This nightmare just seems to go on with chapter after chapter for Patrick's friends and his family?
DE LA ROSA: Definitely. I mean just whenever we thought we could settle down and kind of try to absorb all that's been going on, this comes out. KAGAN: Because this murder investigation did go on for so long up until the time that they found Patrick's body, but this has been a long unfolding story. Did you sense during that time that there was some kind of smear campaign going on with Patrick's image?
DE LA ROSA: Well, I kind of had an idea that there was a cover- up going on, so I'm not surprised to hear about that. But just the nature of it and everything behind it and all that was concocted in it is very shocking.
KAGAN: When you look at the quotes that come from these tapes, basically it appears that Coach Bliss was trying to get together the players to come up with an idea that Patrick was a drug dealer, so perhaps that he had this coming to him in any way.
I just need to ask you, was there anything in Patrick's past, not to suggest that he was a drug dealer or had anything like that would going on, but that would lend credence to that theory?
DE LA ROSA: You know, I just, I've talked to investigators about as much background and everything that I possibly can. And you know, ultimately, God knows. And ultimately God will be the judge.
KAGAN: So are you suggesting that there is something that Patrick could have been involved in?
DE LA ROSA: No, I'm just telling you, I've given these investigators as much background as I can. And you know, I'm really not kind of sure what you're getting to here, but I've given them the background.
KAGAN: OK. You just want to...
DE LA ROSA: Most those things I've said to them, yes, I try not to discuss.
KAGAN: Clearly Patrick Dennehy was a man that you loved, that you miss very much and that you feel it's your personal responsibility to uphold his image and to clear the air about the kind of man that he was, even now that he has died?
DE LA ROSA: Yes. You know, Patrick was a part of me. And I knew him. I knew that guy very well. I knew the type of character that he had. And it's just very -- it's hard to hear things like this said about him.
KAGAN: Coach Bliss has resigned from Baylor. At this point, he doesn't face any kind of criminal charges. What do you think, though, if it turns out that these tapes do say what they appears that they do say, what should happen to Coach Bliss?
DE LA ROSA: Coach Bliss, you know, I'm not the judge. God's the judge. I said that. You know, God is the judge. So I'm not going to say what should happen to him. I'm really not sure what should happen to him. But whatever does, he's earned it.
KAGAN: Jessica De La Rosa. Jessica, thank you for joining us from Albuquerque this evening. We appreciate your time.
DE LA ROSA: Thank you.
KAGAN: I realize it continues to be one difficult day after another.
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