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BAYLOR RISING
S.L. PRICE
February 27, 2012
A HEISMAN TROPHY? TWO NATIONALLY RANKED BASKETBALL TEAMS? A 40--0 STREAK ACROSS THREE MAJOR SPORTS? OFT-BEDEVILED BAYLOR IS ON A QUEST TO BECOME THE PREEMINENT BAPTIST UNIVERSITY, AND WINNING (THE RIGHT WAY) IS ESSENTIAL
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February 27, 2012

Baylor Rising

A HEISMAN TROPHY? TWO NATIONALLY RANKED BASKETBALL TEAMS? A 40--0 STREAK ACROSS THREE MAJOR SPORTS? OFT-BEDEVILED BAYLOR IS ON A QUEST TO BECOME THE PREEMINENT BAPTIST UNIVERSITY, AND WINNING (THE RIGHT WAY) IS ESSENTIAL

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But new questions about the program's tactics were raised in the summer of 2010. In his pursuit of Colombian recruit Hanner Perea, who was playing for a prep school in Indiana, Baylor assistant Mark Morefield, a longtime colleague of Drew's, reportedly sent dozens of texts, including one to Perea's coach that seemingly threatened deportation if Perea chose Indiana over Baylor. i guarantee u if he does he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year, Morefield's text read. don't forget it.

The NCAA began an investigation into the alleged illegal contact in October 2010, and last July, Morefield left Baylor; the investigation is ongoing. Asked for his side of the episode, Drew said, "I haven't spoken on it. Actually you might be the first to ask me about it." He then said he needed to consult with administration officials.

"They said it's in the past, and preferred me not to comment," Drew said a day later. "Any other questions I can answer. That one I got to leave at that."

Starr, for his part, says he's always concerned about compliance, but "we have to be even more so, more vigilant, more watchful, much more focused on that particular dimension. And I will fault myself: I don't think I've been as vigilant as I need to be." But he, like everyone else in charge at Baylor, speaks often these days about the basketball team's alltime best 2.77 GPA—and forgiveness.

"We all have flaws, we all make mistakes," Drew says, and then he laughs. "That's why, I guess, we don't go to church worshipping ourselves." There are worse roles to play than the school's Tom Sawyer, a rapscallion who the old folks are sure means well. And you'll never see a fence whitewashed better.

"They'll be a power to be reckoned with from now on," Vaccaro says. "The hardest part about this industry is getting there. Scott's got it going now. I don't think all these things that may or may not have happened in the past will be as obvious if they continue to happen—and I don't think they'll ever get caught in a violation. They've broken through."

Kim Mulkey sat at home, watching the Baylor men go down to Mizzou, the margin hardly indicative of how limp Drew's team looked. By the time she arrived at the Ferrell Center for the No. 1 Lady Bears' game against Kansas State, she was in a fury. She stalked into the locker room and tore into her players about how they'd better defend, better rebound and better give the fans something to cheer about. "I saw too many teams that didn't battle today," she said.

Everything that's happening in Waco—RG3 and PJIII and all this winning and love between town and gown—started with Mulkey, 49, and the Lady Bears. A first-time head coach out of Louisiana Tech, Mulkey arrived in 2000, took over a last-place program and laid down a blunt Cajun blueprint for the rest of the athletic department to follow. "Pay me when I've won something," she told her new bosses. "But when we win? Don't wait for me to come askin'."

They started paying soon enough, even as Baylor 2012 nearly tore the campus apart, even as the Bliss horror made parents balk at sending their kids to Waco. The Lady Bears made the NCAA tournament in Mulkey's first year, then again the next, and seats began to fill. Fans took to calling star forward Sophia Young and her teammates Baylor's "shining light" as they sliced through the 2004--05 season. Holding a 20-point lead with some two minutes left in the title game in Indianapolis, Mulkey scanned the crowd at the RCA Dome, all those rapturous Baylor faces. Her second thought was, We deserve this. Her first was, Don't screw it up.

The unbeaten Lady Bears are unlike any other Baylor team, ever. They have declared—on video, on bracelets—that it's a national title or bust this year. With Griner, who might be the most astonishing athlete in any sport, and point guard Odyssey Sims, Mulkey has all the team she needs. Baylor has beaten No. 4 Notre Dame by 13, No. 2 Connecticut by five and Texas A&M, the defending national champion, by 23. By early in the second half K-State is shooting 9 for 48 from the floor. On a roll, Mulkey's women hammer opponents like a hurricane hitting land; really, it's best just to flee.

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