The University of Maryland plans to remove from basketball player Herman Veal's records references to disciplinary actions taken against him, provided he is not involved in further cases, it was learned yesterday.
Although the records are confidential, some employers ask applicants to waive their right to privacy. Veal is on disciplinary probation until the fall semester as a result of a student's complaint that he tried to force sexual attentions on her, and "the attendant publicity imposed a penalty we did not intend," said Gary Pavela, director of of judicial programs.
The possibility of expunging Veal's records upon his graduation was mentioned in a letter to him. His attorney, Stuart J. Robinson, would not comment specifically on the document.
"The letter was sent trying to help him (Veal) understand the way we operate," said William Thomas, vice chancellor for student affairs. Thomas said the decision was made by the judicial programs office. He said such action was not extraordinary, and the letter was simply a statement of university policy on "expungable" records, "in this case personalized."
After Veal's appeal process was exhausted March 4, he became athletically ineligible. The chancellor's office is looking into reports that Coach Lefty Driesell called the woman in an attempt to pressure her to drop her complaint; Driesell has declined comment on whether he called her but has said he did not threaten her.
The panel looking into the calls has begun its interviews, it was also learned. It was not clear whether the panel would ask to speak with Robinson, who had sought unsuccessfully to be a part of it. "Our offer to help remains open and will be through the investigation," Robinson said yesterday.
Robinson has specific concerns he wants addressed, including: should cases that involve criminal allegations be heard by a student panel; should standards in student judicial cases follow criminal court standards; was Veal read his rights before making a statement to the university police, and how did the case become public?
Eugene Sides, chief of university police, said decisions on whether to read someone his Miranda rights (anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law . . . ) are "a discretionary decision by the officer." There are no criminal charges in the Veal case.
The university's code of student conduct says that "respondents in disciplinary proceedings may be directed to answer questions concerning their conduct. Students who refuse . . . may be informed that the hearing panel could draw negative inferences." It goes on to say that statements then given "could not be used against him" in court.
"We expect students to talk to us about their behavior," said Pavela. As to a right to silence, Pavela said students "in fact have none" in disciplinary proceedings.
Because Veal gave campus police a statement, his attorney said there was "no question of the activity." Veal, he said, contends the woman consented, which she has denied.
Pavela said the university has reasons for not following court procedure in disciplinary cases. "We have a different mission," Pavela said. "That mission is educational. Even though we may impose a punishment, we try to engage in a dialogue with the student about his actions."
Courts have recognized campuses' rights to set up disciplinary systems, and Robinson said he is not questioning that. He is questioning "what could be a lack of credibility in the process."
"You feel for everybody in this," he said, referring specifically to the two students, who he said had been hurt by information that has come from within the university.
"I'm very proud of the record this office has in confidentiality," said Pavela. "There had been no mention of the case in question in the press until people out of my office indicated there would be a big story. I believe the comment was a whole column, a whole page on the story. A day or two after that, our campus was flooded with reporters. While it is regrettable information would leak out, it made our job almost impossible."
Driesell said after the March 6 Maryland-Virginia game--the first missed by Veal, who at that time was said to be out because of an "administrative problem"--that when the reason for Veal's absence came out it would be "a whole column, a whole page." Two days afterward, the first reports involving Veal and the woman was printed.
Robinson said he does not blame Driesell's statement for subsequent leaks. "The coach genuinely cares about his players," he said, adding, "there's still no excuse for the break of confidentiality . . . it doesn't matter about the circumstances."