Untainted by scandal, Baylor AD Stanton steps down

Updated: August 20, 2003, 1:38 AM ET

WACO, Texas - Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton, who has escaped blame in the rapidly unfolding scandal involving the school's basketball program, stepped down late Tuesday night.

Stanton originally announced his resignation on August 8 but told university officials he would stay on until a successor was named. Calling the past few months "the most difficult period of my life," he announced his immediate departure.

"Baylor will always be my school and I will do absolutely everything I can to help with the ongoing basketball investigation," Stanton said in a statement.

"There have been many families that have suffered throughout this ordeal. They ahve been in my thoughts and prayers. Unfair speculation and innuendo reported in the media has also taken a toll on my family. I believe it is better for me, my family and the university to support Baylor as an alumnus rather than as athletic director at this time."

Several media outlets have reported that former men's basketball coach Dave Bliss orchestrated a cover-up following the disappearance of forward Patrick Dennehy. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last weekend that Bliss advised player to tell investigators that Dennehy paid for his tuition by selling drugs.

Bliss resigned August 8, two weeks after Dennehy's badly decomposed body was found near campus. Former roommate and teammate Carlton Dotson has been charged with murder.

While the university's investigative committee has concluded that Bliss was aware of NCAA rules violations, no evidence was found that Stanton had knowledge of the coach's attempted cover-up.

"I, too, have been shocked and saddened by the activities of our former men's basketball coach," Stanton said. "I feel betrayed and cannot conceive of how he could have justified his actions. I may never understand it."

During Stanton's seven-year tenure, Baylor led the Big 12 Conference in graduation rates four times.

"Tom Stanton has led Baylor athletics through a period of tremendous growth and accomplishment," university president Dr. Robert B. Sloan Jr. said. "He has been a great fund-raiser, has overseen the planning and construction of one of the finest overall set of athletics facilities in the country and, more importantly, established an environment that allowed our student-athletes to fulfill their potential personally, academically and athletically."

David Brooks, Baylor's vice president for finance and administration, will oversee the athletic department while the search continues for Stanton's replacement.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index