Seven years after his coaching career ended amid unimaginable scandal and shame, former Baylor coach Dave Bliss appears to be on the verge of receiving an unlikely second chance.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bliss was hired Friday as the dean of students and the men's basketball coach at Allen Academy, a college preparatory school in Bryan, Texas. A 295-student K-to-12 school in rural Texas is a far cry from the big-budget Big 12, but it's probably better than Bliss deserves considering the severity of his past transgressions.
"Having gone through what I went through, some people would think you would miss the money and the fame of Division I coaching," Bliss told the Star Telegram. "But the part that I really missed was being around young people and being around my players and being on a campus in an educational setting, because that's all I've known for most of my life."
If putting a bullet in teammate Patrick Dennehy's head made former Baylor guard Carlton Dotson one villain from the darkest scandal in NCAA history, Bliss' blatant cover-up attempt made him the other. He paid players. He hid positive drug tests. And then days before consoling Dennehy's family at the funeral, Bliss was caught on tape by an assistant coach ordering players to tell investigators that the slain player was a drug dealer to hide the fact that Bliss had illegally paid a portion of his tuition.
The fallout from the release of that tape and an ensuing NCAA investigation made Bliss the ultimate symbol of corruption in college athletics. In 2005, the NCAA effectively ended the coaching career of a man who had won more than 500 games, levying a 10-year "show cause" penalty on Bliss that required member schools to seek permission from the infractions committee before attempting to hire Bliss until 2015.
To his credit, Bliss has shown genuine remorse in the wake of the scandal. He spoke with a Bible in his lap as a representative of Athletes in Action at the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio, telling an audience of coaches that faith helped him survive his "humiliation and remorse" for what he did.
"If I was sitting out there, I would say, how can someone who did some of the things I did ever show up at the Final Four, much less speak at it," Bliss said. "When you get past denial for a sin, you can cope with just about anything."
The job at Allen Academy won't be Bliss' first foray into coaching since Baylor. He spent a year volunteering at his son's Colorado high school, he coached the CBA's Dakota Wizards in 2005 and he coached one of Athletes in Action's summer teams that traveled abroad to face international competition.
Does Bliss deserve to be coaching kids again? Maybe not. But others who have been wronged by Bliss are hoping he makes good on this second chance.
"I commend Allen Academy for hiring Dave Bliss," Former Baylor president Robert Sloan said in a statement. "The real measure of Dave Bliss' career will be found not in the scandal of the past, but in the service that he has been doing for several years and the work he will do in the future -- to mold the lives of young men and women toward discipline, character and moral courage."