Drew’s cheating stigma now has merit

Baylor’s Scott Drew missed his true calling.

Instead of being a basketball coach, he should have been a televangelist. Because with his holier-than-thou shtick about his Christian faith, he fooled the masses for years into believing that he did not violate NCAA rules.

He did so by preaching the good word, leading prayers and belting out songs. The same way Jimmy Swaggart, Marvin Gorman and Jim Bakker did.

They all would be proud of Drew, who has always portrayed himself as innocent despite being constantly accused of cheating during his nine seasons at Baylor. It’s a time span in which he has taken the Bears from ruins after a former player killed his former teammate and turned them into a power that has made the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament two of the past three years.

But like what usually happens to wayward televangelists, Drew’s sins finally were exposed Monday when it was revealed that Baylor’s men’s and women’s basketball programs face potential sanctions for “major violations” of NCAA rules, according to an ESPN report.

Drew, women’s coach Kim Mulkey and their assistants reportedly combined to send 738 impermissible text messages and made 528 impermissible calls over a span of nearly two-and-a-half years, most of which were committed by the men’s staff in 2007 and 2008.

According to the ESPN report, which cited an NCAA report it had obtained, all coaches involved have acknowledged their parts in the violations. Another major violation occurred when former men’s assistant Mark Morefield attempted to have two AAU coaches provide the NCAA with inaccurate information about a series of text messages.

The NCAA also reportedly cited Drew with a "failure to monitor" his assistants and hit Baylor with the same charge overall. Drew also paid four men involved with recruiting services between $200 and $500 to cover his elite camp in 2007.

But worst of all for Drew, many of the NCAA rules broken occurred while the Bears were serving five years’ probation handed down in 2005 for violations found in the aftermath of the murder of former men’s basketball player Patrick Dennehy.

Baylor already has self-imposed penalties such as recruiting restrictions and a loss of scholarships for Drew and Mulkey, but the NCAA is sure to tack on more punishment. Ironically, Baylor’s basketball programs are being cited for extra telephone calls and text messages that will be permissible starting June 15, when coaches can make both without limit.

The NCAA doesn’t care that Baylor’s athletics department is currently enjoying its most success in university history. And rightfully so, because it has been far less lenient with programs that commit violations while already on probation, let alone one that was already in trouble for one of the worst scandals in the history of college athletics.

Cue the applause from men’s college basketball coaches across the country who hope Drew is crucified by the NCAA.

He’s known for badmouthing coaches behind their backs (see Texas’ Rick Barnes), pushing the envelope (hiring John Wall’s AAU coach during Baylor’s unsuccessful recruitment of Wall) and allegedly routinely breaking other NCAA rules. (The latest allegation is that he tried to get Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper to transfer without a release).

And how can we forget that Drew kept Morefield for a full year after the aide sent a text message to the coach of Indiana-signee Hanner Perea that said the Colombian-born player would be deported if he didn’t sign with Baylor.

Of course, Drew said late Monday night in a text message that he could not discuss his program’s reported violations until the NCAA’s final ruling. Baylor’s official stance, however, is a wordy, make-it-go-away statement of no comment.

It won’t go away though. Sure, Drew is likely to keep his job, but he’s finally been caught.

His cheating stigma now has merit, and he will never hear the end of it, no matter what he ever accomplishes or however many times he says hallelujah.

That brings to mind the time Drew preached on a Sunday in July 2010 at Friendswood (Texas) Community Church. At the time, he was just a few months removed from his team’s regional final loss to Duke up the road in Houston.

Drew’s sermon consisted of 10 things he had learned. During one of the points, he stressed to the crowd the importance of “actions, not words.”

Spoken like a true televangelist, only next time Drew might actually want to abide by his own preaching.