"The thing about athletes is the team is so important," said Bruce, and that puts a lot of stress on students to fit in.
Studies, including a 2001 examination by the Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that athletes tend to drink more than their non-athlete peers and to experience more negative effects.
And among athletes, lacrosse players are among the biggest partiers, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report published this year looking at substance use among college athletes. The report was based on responses to the association's 2009 survey of 20,474 student athletes in 23 championship sports.
The survey found that male and female lacrosse players are more likely than any other kind of athlete to take amphetamines like Adderall, which many at U.Va., including Love, were prescribed for attention deficit disorder. And roughly 95 percent of the country's male lacrosse players drank, the study claimed. Among women players, 85 percent consumed alcohol.
Both Love and Huguely were lifelong lacrosse players, and they traveled among a tight-knit crew of other athletes, many of whom grew up together in the same Mid-Atlantic prep school circles. Several witnesses during Huguely's trial said they had known Love for years.
Chris Clements, one of Huguely's team members, met Love when they were pre-teens. Both attended private schools in the Baltimore area, he at St. Paul's School and she at Notre Dame.
"I was very close with Yeardley," Clements said, as Huguely, who went to the Landon School in Bethesda, looked on.
Intervention didn’t happen
Huguely is accused of kicking in Love's door to confront her about their mutual infidelities one night after binge drinking. He wound up throwing her around her bedroom, prosecutors say, until her eye was black, her nose was bloody, and her brain was bruised. A roommate found her body roughly two hours later, about 2:15 on the morning of May 3, 2010.
His attorneys say her death was not caused by Huguely's actions alone, but in combination with the alcohol she had consumed.
Clements and several other lacrosse players said Huguely's drinking was out of hand by then. He was getting loaded three to four nights per week, neglecting his responsibilities and being generally "belligerent," they said. In February of that year, Huguely got drunk at his own party, wrestled Love to the ground, putting her in a choke hold, one witness said. Huguely told police he was too drunk to remember what happened that night.