When things fell apart at Baylor, Corey Herring was caught in the middle. He's rebounded at Canisius
Posted: Friday January 5, 2007 11:56AM; Updated: Friday January 5, 2007 2:24PM
In his second second since transferring from Baylor, Corey Herring is averaging 11.5 points and 3.6 rebounds for Canisius.
Tom Wolf Imaging
By Mike Waters, Special to SI.com
Corey Herring remembers the phone call. It was June 2003 and Herring had just completed his freshman year at Baylor University and returned home to Buffalo. But unbeknownst to Herring one of his teammates, Patrick Dennehy,was missing and a Baylor assistant coach was on the line looking for information about Dennehy's whereabouts.
"No one down there had seen Patrick," said Herring. "[The coaches] were calling all the guys to see if we had talked to him.'' Nobody had.
Thus began one of the darkest stories in college basketball history. Later, it was discovered that another Baylor player, Carlton Dotson,had shot and killed Dennehy. Then, Bears coach Dave Bliss tried to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer to explain how Dennehy had paid his tuition. In reality, Bliss had broken NCAA rules and paid Dennehy's tuition as well as Herring's out of his own pocket, something neither Herring nor his family had any knowledge of. Herring was under the impression that he was on scholarship.
In fact, Bliss had flown to Buffalo to ask Herring's mother, Ora, to lie about paying $18,641 for Corey's tuition, when Bliss had paid it. Later, Bliss, in an attempt to find out what evidence investigators might find against him, pretended to be Herring's father as he called Baylor's financial aid office to check on payments he had made to Herring's account. In the end, neither Herring nor his mother had to get involved because the NCAA discovered what Bliss had done and hit the coach and the school hard with major penalities.
The ordeal at Baylor is a time Herring wants to forget, but he knows he never will. "It's the biggest part of my college career,'' Herring said. "Those things affect your life completely.''
After the scandal cost Bliss his job and decimated Baylor's basketball program, Herring remained at the school for one more season. With the events playing out through the summer of 2003, Herring had no time to transfer, even though the NCAA granted Baylor players a waiver allowing them to go to another school without having to sit out for a season. But that wasn't an option for Herring because he had played sparingly as a freshman and lacked the resume to attract last-minute scholarship offers from Division I schools.
"I went back to Baylor [because] I really didn't know what else to do,'' Herring said. "We didn't know what was going on. We had no idea what would happen next.''
Herring, a 6-foot-5 swingman, averaged 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds as a sophomore at Baylor during the 2003-04 season and then transferred back home to Canisius College in Buffalo. After all he'd been through, home seemed like the best place for him. Now a fifth-year senior, Herring is averaging 11.5 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Golden Griffins (5-8). Herring has the size to match up well with most big guards and small forwards in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but he really excels in transition where he can fill the lane and finish strong.
"[Corey's] someone who went away and, obviously, didn't have good experience, and now he's back and he's making the most of it,'' Canisius first-year coach Tom Parrotta said. "When he's across the country and something like that goes down, there's no one for him to turn to. I think it's great for Corey to be able to get in his car and go home and go see his mother. That's very comforting.''