A series of newspaper articles charging among other things, illegal use of drugs by college athletes has jolted and angered school administrators coaches and athletic department officials at five major North Carolina universities in recent days.
Street sales of the 20,500 circulation Fayetteville Times have zoomed this week and state newspapers are giving prominent display to Associated Press synopses of the Times' five-part series that will conclude Friday.
Written by Tim Smith, a 22-year-old Times reporter who will graduate from the University of North Carolina next month, the series is based on interviews with more than 70 former and current athletes at North Carolina,North Carolina State, Duke, Wake Forest and East Colina Universities.
Smith began the investigation as an assignment for a journalism class, focusing mainly on abuses at North Carolina. When the school newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, chose not to run Smith's story, he took it to Fayetteville. The Times decided to expand the investigation, and Smith's story began Monday. Smith is now a full-time general assignment reporter on the Times.
The Times says it has been told by football and basketball players and wrestlers-some in sworn statements-that:
Some athletes use amphetamines to enhance their performances and some football players at North Carolina and East Carolina have sold drugs to teammates. The pratice was most common from 1970-75, but still goes on.
Valium, a tranquilizer dispensed by team physicians at North Carolina as a muscle relaxant forfoot ball players was taken away from the playing field by some players and mixed with beer. "You'd take all eight pills at once and then take a couple of beers," said one player, "and you'd feel like floating through air.
Pain-killing drugs were administered to injured players at all five schools, some of whom complained they believed they were risking further injury by playing but were afraid of losing their positions if they refused.
The University of North Carolina's sports mmedicine division may have violated state and federal law by not keeping records on the dispensing of valium.
Former North Carolina coach Bill Dooley, now the head coach at Virginia Tech, dismissed players for drug abuse without turning themi n to university officials.
Use of marjuana was the most common form of drug abuse, estimated by the Times sources at 50 per cent among Wake Forest football players and 75 per cent at North Carolina.
According to Tom English, Times managing editor, today's article will deal with use of marijuana by athletes at Duke,Wake Forest, North Carolina State and East Carolina.
Friday's piece, he said, will focus on double standards that allowed star athletes at Duke and North Carolina to remain on teams "while atheletes of lesser stature were kicked off for the same violations. We will name names,"England said,%TAt the University of North Carolina, Dr. Donald Boulton, vice chancellor for student affairs, said yesterday that "everything I have read has no factual bearing at all. We have excellent control, we know every pill that is prescribed.
"I know what our people do, and I know its' absolutely correct. I'm proud of what they do. I can tell you the man who wrote the articles didn't do a very good job of research. We are knowledgeable about the law and in full compliance with he law.
"He hasn't done enough research.He never even talked to me He spoke with several students who I know had some problems, and certainly ahd access to Valium as easily as they could alcohol. Sometimes their parents sent them these things. But they did not get them through the unversity or its health center."
Mike McGee, the Duke football coach, said "It's unfortunate because it (the series) potrays drugs as kind of a universal problem and it's not. There may be isolated incidents, but to say it happens all the time with the players is absolutely not the case."
McGee confirmed that Duke Officials warned the Times that "if libelous things about players are printed, the university will take action."
Tom Butters, the Duke athletic director, said, "I know of no drug problem at Duke University. I dont't think it's a big issue, and I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to bring all this up, especially in a day and age where drug use is on the decline."