Statement From Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., Followed By Media Q&AJuly 1, 2003
Baylor University President Robert B. Sloan Jr. read the following statement during a news conference July 1 at Baylor Law School, regarding the disappearance of Baylor student-athlete Patrick Dennehy:
"I would like to begin by thanking our regents, alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and other friends of the University for the outpouring of concern that has been expressed through phone calls, e-mails and other means over these past few days.
"These have been difficult circumstances, most notably for Brian and Valorie Brabazon, Patrick Dennehy Sr. and the other family members and friends of Patrick Dennehy. We want to, first and foremost, continue to remember these individuals in our thoughts and prayers. As a Christian community whose faith and hope are in our Lord, we remain steadfast in our prayers for Patrick's safe return.
"Nothing prepares you for an ordeal like this. While we still have many questions and few answers, we have complete confidence in the various law enforcement agencies who are working tirelessly to solve this mysterious disappearance. Baylor Department of Public Safety and athletic department staff, along with others at the University, are assisting the authorities in every way possible to find Patrick Dennehy -- a young man who in his brief time on campus, has been a positive influence on his team, his classmates and others he has come in contact with over the past year. We want to encourage anyone with information regarding Patrick's disappearance to contact the Waco Police Department at 254-750-7500.
"The term 'family' is used frequently to describe the Baylor community. While we are, by private school standards, a relatively large institution with 14,000 students, we are characterized by close-knit relationships. When a member of our family is in crisis, we quickly rally around those affected. I know that our athletic director and coaches have been in regular contact with Patrick's family and will continue to do everything we can to help and comfort them. I also know that I am joined by many students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Baylor community who are praying for his safe return.
"I will now be happy to take some of your questions."
On the possibility of a University investigation
Of course the University has its own student handbook and profile, but the first thing is to do everything we can to serve the authorities who are looking for Patrick and trying to gather information. We'll always respond as we do to situations as a University.
On coach Bliss' reaction to the situation
I've spent a lot of time with Coach Bliss, and Coach Bliss is a man of great faith, a man of course of great character who loves the students. Of course, people always look to point to his great career winning record as a Division I basketball coach, but the greatest thing about Dave Bliss is the concern he has for students. And, I have to say, Dave has been heartbroken over this. I think it's not too strong to say that I have seen a look of hurt in his face. He's doing first things first, which is to try to care about the students.
On Bliss' status at Baylor
I am thrilled that we have a man of Dave Bliss' character as our coach. This is the kind of thing that is unimaginable, and we still do not want to speculate. When you have a situation like this you like to have a man of Dave Bliss' character on the job.
On the Waco PD
I have confidence in the integrity of the law enforcement officials. They are working hard to do their job and these are very difficult and trying circumstances for everybody. I just think it's one of those things where nobody can prepare you for something like this. Certainly it is a first case for us. We haven't been here before, and we're trying to learn some things.
On the other players
I haven't talked to any of the other players. I know that they must be feeling as all of us feel, a real measure of concern and just anxiety. You know, 'where's Patrick?'
On the family's thoughts about the University's reaction
In a time like this, you don't argue with people; you try to reach out to them and meet their needs. People are frustrated in times like this, and that is very understandable. If I was missing one of my seven children I can assure you that I would be very frustrated and anxious as a parent. You don't take comments in any kind of a personal way. Anything said by anyone in a situation like this is just reflecting the concern and love that any parent has. Our hearts go out to the parents right now. We join them in their anxiety. I've had the opportunity to place some brief calls with the parents. I have not yet personally talked to the Brabazons because, as I'm sure you can imagine, they are getting a lot of phone calls, but I've left messages with them. I did have the privilege of speaking with Patrick Dennehy Sr., and I know as a parent I was able to share at least in some ways to try to imagine what he is going through.
On the first contact between the University and the parents
I'm sorry, I simply don't know the facts in that situation. I know that the University at this moment and for a number of days has poured its heart and soul into this matter, and I can understand the frustration. We are doing our best to supply all the help and comfort we can.
On the enforcement of the code of conduct policy for firearms
Our general rule of course is that there are no firearms allowed on campus. We take all of our rules very seriously. I don't think we are particularly unusual in that regard as a University or any public institution. Firearms are a matter of a serious nature. We have some expectations that are involved with the rules. Of course, there are laws to follow on firearms.
On students signing about their knowledge of the University policies
My understanding is that Coach Bliss has something that he requires a signature for that reflects the general University policies. I do not believe that we require a signature from every student regarding the policies, but it is taken within the general framework of their admission process.
On how the University found out about the Dennehy situation
I honestly could not answer that in terms of initial information. It came to me through mediators who came through our own department.
On the University's classification of Carlton Dotson
I don't know what his official status is and I prefer not to comment on particular students. My understanding is that he planned to transfer.
On his reaction if it is true that Dennehy and Dotson were firing weapons
I am not privy to those facts and our rules relate to weapons on campus.
On how the University has helped police with the investigation
We are doing everything we can to serve them. Of course, we are not co-investigators with the law enforcement agencies, but we are doing everything we can to support them. If we hear anything we pass it on through the channels to provide them with whatever contacts or sources they need.
On the Sterling Apartments
No, I do not believe that they are (campus apartments). I believe that they were at one time, but they are privately owned.
On the relationship between Dotson and Dennehy
I can only say what I have heard, and that is that they were very good friends. I do have to rely on the observations of others here because I do not know the persons.
On the type of student Dotson was
I'm a basketball fan and I go to the games, but I do not know the players personally.
On his gut reaction to students having handguns at Baylor University
We don't want guns on campus and we don't allow firearms. My reaction is that all of us as a society have to answer a societal question. I think that while there is a legitimate argument for the use of firearms for hunting and other legitimate means, I think it's one of those questions that we have to continue to take a very hard look at as a larger society.