Dave Bliss

Dave Bliss (born September 20, 1943)

Teams coached: Oklahoma Sooners, SMU Mustangs, New Mexico Lobos, Baylor Bears
Oklahoma record: 77-62 (.554)
SMU record: 142-101 (.584)
New Mexico record: 246-108 (.695)
Baylor record: 61-57 (.517)
Southwestern Christian record^: 40-28 (.588)
Overall record^: 566-356 (.614)

Career Accomplishments:


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

2015-2017 Southwestern Christian
2005-2006 Dakota Wizards
1999-2003 Baylor
1988-1999 New Mexico
1980-1988 SMU
1975-1980 Oklahoma
1971-1975 Indiana (asst)
1969-1971 Cornell (asst)
1967-1969 Army (asst)
1966-1967 Cornell (freshmen)

Dave Bliss Facts

  • David Gregory Bliss
  • Born September 20, 1943
  • Hometown: Binghamton, New York
  • Alma Mater: Cornell University (BA, 1965 & MA, 1967)
  • Played baseball and basketball at Cornell, the latter for head coach Sam MacNeil; inducted into the Cornell Athletic HOF in 1984
    • Started coaching the freshman team at Cornell in 1966 while earning his master’s degree
  • Joined Bob Knight‘s staff at Army as an assistant in 1967 and two seasons later returned Cornell to coach under Jerry Lace
  • Moved on to Indiana, re-joining Knight, in 1971 where he worked as an assistant for four seasons
  • Spent five years as the head coach at Oklahoma, eight at SMU and eleven at New Mexico before being hired at Baylor in 1999
    • Tenure was marred by the infamous Baylor basketball scandal, which led to his resignation in 2003 and a 10-year show-cause penalty on Bliss from the NCAA
    • The scandal stemmed from the murder of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy, for which his teammate Carlton Dotson was eventually convicted
      • What started as a financial scandal – Bliss admitting to covering some tuition payments for both Dennehy and teammate Corey Herring – quickly expanded into something much more sinister
      • Bliss had publicly portrayed Dennehy, who transferred to Baylor after playing for Bliss at New Mexico, as a drug dealer to explain how his tuition was being paid
        • He also instructed (in taped conversations) other BU players and members of the program to lie to police about Dennehy being a drug dealer
      • Bliss then tried to convince Herring’s mother to lie about where the tuition payments came from, though the family initially believed that their son was on a full scholarship
      • Further digging led the NCAA to uncover widespread drug use within the program that was being ignored by Bliss and his staff, more financial benefits to Baylor athletes, as well recruiting violations that occurred at Baylor and during Bliss’ tenure at SMU
    • In the end, the Baylor program was put on probation through the 2009-10 season, banned from non-conference play for one year, a reduce in scholarships and recruiting visits for two years and a one-year postseason ban
    • Bliss was given a 10-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA, citing “despicable behavior” and “unethical conduct” on his part, which has effectively exiled the coach from NCAA competition completely
    • Most remaining Baylor players transferred from the school (the NCAA allowed them to do so without sitting out a year) and new head coach Scott Drew inherited a decimated program that would win just 35 games over the next four seasons
  • Bliss became the head coach of the Dakota Wizards (CBA) for one season; later became the athletic director and head basketball coach at the Allen Academy (prep school) in Bryan, TX
  • Returned to the college ranks in 2015 as head coach at NAIA Southwestern Christian University in Oklahoma City; Bliss resigned after two seasons following the release of Disgraced, a Showtime documentary about the Baylor scandal
  • Spent one season as the head coach at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Las Vegas; resigned in 2018
  • Along with his wife, Claudia, has two sons and one daughter

Dave Bliss Coaching Tree

  • Tony Benford (LSU, North Texas)
  • Dwight Freeman (Norfolk State, Marshall)
  • Paul Graham (Georgia State, Washington State)
  • Terry Stotts (Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I and NAIA levels only