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Roland to Roland: 'I want you back'

Bolivar Herald Free Press
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
by Bill Breshears

___________________________________________________________________

Southwest Baptist University Director of Athletics Dennis Roland
has this message for Bearcat head football coach Dennis Roland
as the Bearcats enter the final game of Roland's third season at SBU -
I want you back.


[Note: Dennis Roland is both the SBU Director of Athletics and
the
Bearcat head football coach.]

"I think our football program has made a lot of strides," Roland
said Monday. "We made Emporia State play four quarters of football.
We made Central Missouri State play four quarters of football.
We made Missouri Southern play four quarters of football and
we probably should have won that game.

"I came here as football coach three years ago and took over a team
with a 22-game losing streak. There were some good players on
campus, but not enough of them.
As athletic director, I feel we're
doing the right things to get this program on track.
President Taylor
and others who care about this program feel we're doing this the
right way."

The Bearcats have gone 7-25 under Roland, including a 2-8 mark
this season. After taking over for former coach Wayne Haynes
in 1998, Roland led the Bearcats to a 3-8 mark. They went 2-9 last
season and were shut out six times. They have been out-scored
427-168
this season, but have not been shut out.

"I knew coming in that there would be no quick fix," Roland said.
"I've studied the way programs such as Northwestern have been
rebuilt. It takes time.
This program was down after budget cuts
and
changes in the presidency at SBU hurt my predecessor.

[Note:  The changes in the presidency which Roland refers to
was the termination of Dr. James Sells (former SBU President,
Chancellor, and CEO) in the Fall 1992 following what has been
known locally as the "Saddlegate Scandal."
   
          Dr. James Sells (with the assistance of his Dean of Students/
Head Football Coach, Garry Bryant) was one of the primary
initiators and most fervent supporters of the  SBU football program
--
which, from the beginning, was viewed with dismay and concern
by many.  Friction developed early on when,  in order to finance
the football program after an the first year, deep cuts were made
in other academic and theological programs -- such as, the foreign
language, religious education, and humanities departments.
         
          SBU Trustee and former Missouri Secretary of State,
Roy Blunt
, a close political ally and friend of Dr. Sells (Dr. Sell's
son, Ben, headed Mr. Blunt's failed 1992 bid for the Missouri
governorship) was mentored and "hand-picked" to replace Dr.
Sell by means of the "SaddlegateScandal."

          During Mr. Blunt's tenure as SBU President and CEO,
four SBU athletes were dismissed from the University following
revelations of the gang-rape of a female student in the SBU
Manor Housing complex
.
          When the story was run as the top story for several days,
there was an outcry from parents, supporters, and Trustees
for a shift in SBU's spiritual and educational focus -- which
resulted in more funding cuts for the athletics programs.

         In November 1996, Roy Blunt resigned in order to begin
his
term as Congressman for the Missouri Seventh District.  
He was shortly replaced by former coach Dr. C. Pat. Taylor. ]

"President Taylor came in here with new support for all athletics.
There may be a perception that much of the financial support
goes to football; but in looking at things, football is way down
on the list."
 [said Dennis Roland.]

"Retention is also a big key for us. We've been able to retain
most of the people we've had in the program.
A couple have
gotten away, but we've been able to keep most of the better
ones.
"

The Bearcats fell 69-7 to Pittsburg State University last week
in Kansas. They will host Missouri Western at 1:30 p.m. Saturday
to close out the 2000 season. It will be the final game for six
Bearcat seniors.
The rest of the team is made up of underclassmen
recruited by Roland
in his three years here.

"We're still extremely young. We're playing a lot of freshmen
and sophomores," Roland said. "We're playing against teams
with lots of seniors. We're playing strong programs. That makes
a tremendous difference.

"We went through a tough week last week. We had a lot of
adversity
.  We've got to go out now and overcome those things
and continue to do what we came here to do."

Four Bearcat football players were dismissed from the team and
from school last week after a 22-year old Bolivar woman reported
that she had been
gang-raped and sodomized at an off-campus party.
An additional eight SBU students
were disciplined in connection
with the party.
  
                                    See the article in:

   The Word and Way:
SBU Students Expelled After Sexual Assault

[Note:  Other media reports indicated that the eight other students
had been drinking.  Several were apparently underage as the legal

drinking age in Missouri is 21.  According to the Student Code of
Conduct, drinking by SBU students -- on or off-campus -- is prohibited.]

One football player reportedly named by the woman started for
SBU Saturday.

"I have always - ever since I came here - been aggressive in my
pursuit of any misconduct," Roland said. "I found evidence that
four players violated team and university policies. I took swift and
direct action. Because of legal and other considerations, that's all
I can comment on the incident.

"While I support my players, I am also concerned in doing
what's right for the program and for the school. I've never
attempted to sweep things under the rug."

                        __________________________________________________________________

Source URL (this article was taken off-line almost immediately after posting
and it was not reposted):     The Bolivar Herald Free Press
   


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