Baylor starts new season under cloud
These are supposed to be good times for Baylor basketball.
Seven months after their best season in 60 years, the Bears
begin practice Friday with their star player suspended after being
accused of hitting his girlfriend and reports of an NCAA recruiting
LaceDarius Dunn, the leading scorer from the team that fell one
game short of the Final Four last season, can practice but remains
suspended indefinitely from competition. He faces a felony charge
of punching his girlfriend and breaking her jaw, which she
Foxsports.com has reported the NCAA is investigating the Baylor
program over the recruitment of a high school player.
Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw did not return a telephone
message seeking comment Friday.
”It’s been a long two weeks,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. He
called the incident involving Dunn ”unfortunate,” and declined to
comment on the investigation allegations.
Student reaction has been mixed.
Walking across campus Friday, freshman Victor Manon said he and
his friends weren’t talking about the problems surrounding the
”It’s football season. That’s what people are talking about,”
Manon said. ”Maybe if we start losing or something.”
But K.C, Mangen, a junior who toted a basketball under his arm
outside the student life center, said Dunn shouldn’t be allowed to
practice until formally cleared of any charges.
Mangen said he and his friends find the allegations disgusting
and there’s a sense of ”Oh no, not again.”
Baylor, after all, is not that far removed from a scandal.
In 2003, Baylor player Patrick Dennehy was killed by teammate
Carlton Dotson, and the aftermath caught former coach Dave Bliss in
a tangle of lies and financial misdeeds. The NCAA eventually
hammered the program, taking away Baylor’s nonconference schedule
in the 2005-2006 season after first considering a full-season
”There’s a big sense of that and a lot of distaste for what
people are hearing,” Mangen said, noting two football players also
were recently arrested on minor drug charges.
Drew encouraged Baylor fans to support the program.
”We’re all human, we all sin, we all make mistakes. Jesus said
it best, he who is without sin cast the first stone,” Drew said.
”We’ll try to grow, we’ll try to improve. Obviously, we want to
make the school proud, but at the same time, I don’t think any of
us said we’re perfect.”
The Big 12 coaches picked Baylor to finish fourth in the league
and Dunn’s absence would be a major blow if it lasts for long. He
was a second-team All-Big 12 pick last season while averaging 19.6
points and 4.8 rebounds for a team that set a school record for
wins with 28. He decided to return for his senior season instead of
entering the NBA draft.
Since taking over for Bliss, Drew was been slowly rebuilding the
program by attracting top recruits like Dunn.
Those recruiting methods are now reportedly under scrutiny.
Kevin Kunst, athletic director at La Lumiere High School in
Indiana, told The New York Times that the NCAA has asked the school
about Baylor’s methods recruiting Hanner Perea, a junior who
transferred to La Lumiere from Colombia, over the summer.
Foxsports.com reported that Baylor assistant coach Mark
Morefield suggested in text messages that Baylor could have Perea
deported if he did not sign with Baylor. Kunst has not returned
messages left at his office Thursday and Friday.
The timing of the texting allegations is troubling considering
they were from July, just weeks after Baylor’s probation from the
Bliss-era infractions had ended.
Drew said Morefield remains on his staff.
Dunn’s problems began Sept. 27, the day Waco police said he
broke the jaw of Lacharlesla Edwards, and he was arrested Oct. 5 on
a charge of felony aggravated assault.
Edwards, however, has said through statements issued by her
attorney that Dunn did not break her jaw and wants the charges
dropped. Police have submitted the case to the McLennan County
district attorney’s office to determine whether to proceed.
Baylor officials had suspended Dunn from class but agreed this
week to reinstate him. Dunn’s attorney has said Dunn is on track to
graduate next May.
Junior guard Quincy Acy refused to comment on Dunn’s absence
from the eligible lineup.
”When the season gets here, we’ll see. It’s not here yet,” Acy
Baylor’s first game is Nov. 12 against Grambling State.
The Bears should get a boost from UCLA transfer J’mison Morgan,
who was granted an NCAA waiver allowing him to play immediately
without sitting out a season.
The 6-foot-10 junior center comes in after Baylor lost two
starting post players, including Ekpe Udoh, who was the sixth
overall pick by Golden State.
Sophomore guard A.J. Walton said the Bears should expect an even
better season than the last one, which means nothing short of the
”(Expectations) are always going to be better than you were
last year,” Walton said.