Sources at the University of Maryland say basketball Coach Lefty Driesell will not deny calling a female student after her complaint to the university resulted in the ineligibility of one of his players. But they say he will maintain the calls were informational, not pressuring, as the woman and some university staff members believe.
Yesterday, sources said that on March 5 Driesell phoned Gary Pavela, director of Maryland's student judicial program, before calling the woman. The sources say Driesell told Pavela he would announce the reason for Herman Veal's ineligibility and that the woman, who complained Veal tried to force sexual attentions on her, "had to be alerted that she has to deal with it."
That call came the morning after Veal's appeal process was exhausted. Pavela, who has been in charge of student discipline for five years, apparently has become a central figure in Driesell's justification for phoning the woman, according to sources. The woman complained, and the chancellor's office is reviewing the issue.
Driesell declined comment yesterday; in the past, he has refused to say if he called the woman, but has said he did not pressure her. According to sources close to the situation, Driesell says his calls were a mere courtesy, to warn her that details of her life would become public if Veal did not play.
Sources say that information had already been phoned to Pavela, who immediately walked to the woman's dorm apartment. The woman confirmed Driesell's message was relayed, and that its essence was that if the complaint were not dropped, various players would discuss their alleged relationships with her.
When Pavela arrived, the woman said she had already been called once by Driesell. She said Pavela told her that "the purpose of Lefty's call (to him) was to inform me of what would happen . . . If Lefty contacts you, it's harassment."
She said she also spoke with one of the basketball players, who suggested the Veal situation could be resolved. "He said, 'Can't two intelligent minds come to some kind of a conclusion on this?' " she recalled. "I told him my part in it was over and, besides, 'Your coach has already called to intimidate me.' "
The player was unavailable for comment.
Shortly afterward, the woman said, Driesell called back, saying, "I'm not trying to intimidate you, I'm just trying to warn you about what's going to happen."
The woman said Driesell told her she was "making too much of a big deal" in complaining Veal had tried to force attentions on her. "I asked him, 'Where were you in October (when she first complained)?' " she said, and shortly thereafter hung up.
When Driesell called a third time, the woman said, and sources confirm, a university staff member answered, telling Driesell to direct further remarks to Pavela.
At no time, the woman said, did Driesell suggest he would orchestrate revelations by players. In the intervening days, rumors about her life have been widespread and, when told of their being applied as a justification for the Veal incident, she said, "It's like I don't get a choice in the matter . . . That's sexist."
Sources close to the basketball program said Driesell was told by Pavela it was all right to call the woman. They also said it was their understanding that the law office of Jack Heise, a close supporter of the program whose firm represented Veal until March 4, had made an agreement with Pavela that Veal's appeal would be held up administratively until after the season was over.
Contacted yesterday, Pavela said those scenarios were "absolutely false." He declined further comment.
Heise was unavailable for comment. Lewis Pettey, who handled the Veal case, declined comment.
In an unrelated development, William Salmond, director of the student legal office at Maryland and the woman's attorney in her complaint against Driesell, said a former student manager of the basketball team has filed a sex discrimination complaint against Driesell with the university and is in the process of filing a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
Tammy Leavy alleges that when she applied in August for a promotion that would include scholarship aid, Driesell turned her down because she was a woman. She says she was next in line for the job. The deadlines have passed for making Title IX complaints and complaints to the campus human relations office, but Salmond said he will seek an extension.
Asked about Leavy's complaint, Driesell said, "It's ridiculous."