Comedian Bill Cosby cheers 20,000 students at Baptist university shaken by scandal

Friday, September 5th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Comedian Bill Cosby was greeted by Baylor's marching band and some 20,000 people at a pep rally to boost morale at a university shaken by heartache and scandal.

Cosby gave the free performance Thursday at Floyd Casey Stadium, home of the university's football team.

``Tonight, it's about you,'' Cosby said. ``It's about the fact that you were left out of all this. It's about how tragedy came, but nobody really remembered that you were coming and you were a part of this as well.''

Sporting a yellow ``Baylor Track & Field'' T-shirt, Cosby said he wanted to build up the students following the shooting death of basketball player Patrick Dennehy.

Since Dennehy's death and the arrest of former teammate Carlton Dotson on a murder charge, revelations of secretly paid players, failed drug tests and a tape-recorded plot by former coach Dave Bliss to cover up possible NCAA violations have rocked the world's largest Baptist university.

Cosby, who graduated from East Coast universities, said he felt compassion for Baylor students and called Baylor President Robert Sloan to offer to host the rally.

He kept the audience laughing throughout a 90-minute routine that made light of his ``C average'' daughter's college experience. But he brought a serious message too, urging students to rise above average grades and not to disappoint their parents.

``You've got to love yourself and you've got to have the strength within yourself,'' he said.

Before Cosby spoke, Sloan presented him with an honorary doctorate of human letters, while noting that he was already Dr. Cosby by virtue of his earned doctorate in education.

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