Documentary 2 years in the making digs into earlier BU sports scandal

The documentary crew started working on "Disgraced" before the sexual assault scandal that engulfed Baylor's football program surfaced. (Courtesy photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A documentary about the scandal that engulfed the Baylor men’s basketball program in 2003 after a player was murdered by a teammate that premiered Sunday night at South by Southwest in Austin raises new questions about the 14-year-old case that rocked the University.

“Disgraced” revisits the 2003 murder of player Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson.

The University of New Mexico transfer was reported missing on June 19, 2003.

His decomposed body was found more than a month later on July, 25, 2003 near gravel pits south of the campus that were previously searched without success.

He had been shot twice in the head.

Dotson was arrested in Maryland four days before the remains were discovered, after he told FBI agents he thought people were trying to kill him because “he is Jesus, the Son of God,” according to court documents.

He told the agents that he and Dennehy went to the gravel pits on June 11, 2003 for target practice with the two guns he had purchased for protection.

He told the agents that Dennehy pointed a gun at him and when it jammed, Dotson said he fired at his friend.

He then went home, packed his belongings, and drove home to Maryland, throwing the gun into a lake along the way.

He was later committed to a state hospital in Vernon after a court-appointed psychiatrist said he “consistently appears to be hallucinating” and needed medication at a psychiatric hospital.

In January 2005, he was judged competent to stand trial, but then that June, he unexpectedly pleaded guilty to the murder, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison, half of which he must serve before he’s eligible for parole.

The murder ultimately revealed a scandal in the men’s basketball program that led to stiff self-imposed sanctions, a ban from postseason competition in 2003-2004 and the resignations of head coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton.

The program was buffeted by a string of accusations including allegations that Bliss paid Dennehy’s tuition and living expenses while the player was on the team, but not on scholarship; that Dennehy received an excessive discount on a Tahoe he purchased locally after receiving the money for the down payment from an assistant; that coaches regularly handed out $50 to $100 at a time to players; and that players including Dotson and Dennehy used marijuana regularly and cheated on drug tests.

Assistant coach Abar Rouse blew the lid off the scandal after he secretly recorded the coach asking teammates and staff to paint Dennehy as a drug dealer, in an effort to cover up the illegal payments.

Bliss now admits to the payments, but says Dennehy was a drug a dealer.

Some of what he had to say the filmmakers caught as the coach walked off camera to the film’s producer, Patrick Kondelis.

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

Bliss told the crew, “You’ll never be able to use this,” as he got out of the interview chair.

Kondelis told KWTX he was surprised by what the coach had to say.

“I was very surprised by the things Dave said in the film,” said Kondelis.

“I spent a lot of time with Dave and stressed to him over and over again to be truthful and authentic with me. “

But Kondelis says he thinks what Bliss had to say about Dennehy isn’t as shocking as questions raised about the player who pleaded guilty to the crime.

“There are much bigger revelations in the film than some of Dave's comments. Specifically on the controversial defense of Carlton Dotson. There are some big questions surrounding Dotson changing his plea to guilty five days before the trial was to begin. Dotson's family has some startling information regarding that. “

While the film is airing in the midst of the sexual assault scandal surrounding the school’s football program, the film’s producer says the timing is nothing more than a coincidence.

“We've been working on the film for two years. We were deep into filming when the sexual assault scandal broke, so I want to be clear in that that scandal had nothing to do with our desire to tell the story of 2003,” Pat Kondelis said.

The film crew came to KWTX nearly three years ago to interview News Ten anchor Julie Hays, who was the station’s main reporter on the story throughout the scandal and who landed the first interview with the Dennehy family, the player’s girlfriend and childhood best friend as well as the first interview with the disgraced coach five years after he resigned from Baylor.

“My reason to make the film was to simply answer some serious questions that I think have been lingering for the last 14 years. I think we give the audience a better understanding of what was going on, but I think what we found just ultimately raises new questions. “

The world premiere had an audience that included Abar Rouse and former McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest.

There will be two more showings of the film at the film festival in Austin this week.

The documentary will debut on television on Showtime on March 31.