WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Ian McCaw is not a man with a new job that people will envy.
On Monday, he was named athletic director at scandal-ridden Baylor University. The school is buried so deep in controversy and sleaze that it very likely will take at least one lifetime to restore order and dignity to what has becomes one of the nation's worst Division I-A athletic programs.
This year alone has seen:
-- The killing of men's basketball player Patrick Dennehy, an alleged confession to his shooting death by former teammate Carlton Dotson, a plan to cover up an investigation of the incident by former coach Dave Bliss, who wanted his players to lie about how Dennehy paid his tuition by selling drugs, McCaw's predecessor taking responsibility, along with Bliss, for NCAA rules that were broken, including illegal payments and poorly handled drug tests, and a decision by the school's higher-ups that Baylor will not play in the postseason or the 2004 Big 12 Tournament.
That's a lot for one person, and Dotson has yet to stand trial, the investigation of Dennehy's execution-style shooting death is still ongoing, and players are transferring to other schools, including the Bears' best player from a 14-14 squad last season, Lawrence Roberts, who has gone to Mississippi State. All of this and we haven't even mentioned that Baylor has one of the worst athletic programs in the country, led by football, the sport that generates the funds that help other sports survive. To top it off, a growing number of members of the board of regents is calling for the ouster of school president Robert B. Sloan.
Already this season, the football team has lost to those national powerhouses Alabama-Birmingham and North Texas in its first two games after losing seven in a row to end the 2002 season. Kevin Steele was fired as coach even before that.
McCaw has a history of being upwardly mobile in his profession, as evidenced by his past jobs as AD at Massachusetts, Northeastern, and Tulane, all of which are among the nation's top academic institutions.
"He has unparalleled integrity," said Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White, who worked with McCaw at both Tulane and Maine. "He doesn't allow himself to be placed in compromising positions. His moral high ground is infectious."
If that's the case, then Baylor appears to be determined to make amends where remotely possible, and McCaw seems an obvious choice. The school has sent a message that the status quo will not be tolerated and the future will be monitored closely.
"We want to establish ... Baylor as a pre-eminent Baptist, Protestant, Christian athletic program, and garner the same level of support that Notre Dame does among the Catholic community and that Brigham Young would among the Mormon community," McCaw said at his introductory news conference. "We want young men and women to grow up dreaming of coming to Baylor University and competing for Baylor University. I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about the history and worrying about the past."
He inherits a job at a school located in one of the hotbed states for high school and college football that has just 17 wins in the last eight years. Most observers feel the school can't attract quality athletes because its academic standards are too high and uncompromising, and because it is located in a rural area.
"Ian McCaw is an excellent choice for Baylor," said Tommy Bowden, the football coach at Clemson, who worked with McCaw at Tulane. "He has high integrity and actively walks the walk of a fine Christian man. He was instrumental in recruiting me as head football coach at Tulane. He understands what it takes to build a strong, competitive team, both on and off the field. The coaches at Baylor will like him. He is a winner."
That may very well be true, but you'd best believe a relaxation of the standards that made what were deemed "borderline" athletes look to other schools likely will continue. If so, then what? It's a catch-22, and for better or worse, that means a turnaround at Baylor will be a long time coming.