With the athletic department's review of the women's basketball program complete, University of Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull said yesterday his report concludes Chris Weller investigated problems and handled the team in an "exemplary" manner.
He declined further comment on his report, which he submitted to Chancellor John B. Slaughter late Tuesday and Slaughter said he planned to read last night. Slaughter said the text of the review, prompted by a booster's allegations of drug use and shoplifting by a small number of players, will not be made public, but that he will issue a statement, likely on Friday.
Slaughter also said there was "a distinct possibility" he would order a further investigation, either by the athletic department or an outside party, based on questions raised in the review.
Dull said players interviewed during the review were told "that there would be absolutely no recriminations against anybody." As a result, he said Randy Hoffman and Gothard Lane, the assistants who interviewed players, coaches, managers, boosters and one former player, felt the players' answers were forthright.
"If there were problems I merely wanted to know about them and then I wanted to be in a position where I could take corrective action," Dull said.
In a related development, Dull said he last week gave Sydney Beasley, who left the team before the season started after a series of run-ins with Weller, a release so she can play for James Madison University next season. Since women's basketball is a nonrevenue sport, a transfer does not have to sit out a year, if the previous university releases her.
The departure of Beasley, a world-class player from Potomac High School, led to Janet Welsh, a booster of the women's team and Beasley's high school guidance counselor, writing a series of letters to Dull and Slaughter alleging problems on the team.
After receiving a copy of Welsh's letters, The Washington Post interviewed about two dozen people closely connected to the team. There was solid support for Weller, but recurring concerns about a small number of players.
Weller has characterized the allegations as "a vicious personal attack against me by a couple of people unhappy with decisions I made early in the year." Dull said that Weller was interviewed twice during the review, once by Hoffman and Lane, and a second time by Dull.
"The role of Coach Weller in investigating and handling her women's basketball team has been exemplary," Dull said. "Chris takes problems of any sort and she affirmatively addresses them, and that's the Chris Weller I've always known."
Asked if she feels vindicated, Weller said, "I'm so tired of this whole thing I don't really care . . . There must have been some misunderstanding on some people's part and it's sad it took that kind of thing to settle the issue or whatever."
Dull said that the one former player among the 20-25 persons interviewed by the university was Tara Heiss. She was a part-time assistant coach last season.
Beasley and Evelyn Duhr (legal guardian of all-ACC center Carolin Dehn-Duhr), who raised concerns over problems in the program with Weller early last season, were not interviewed. Nor were David Sysma, one of the team's tutors who resigned last week, or at least three former players who played key roles in Welsh's allegations, according to sources.
Welsh voiced her concerns to Lane in November and wrote her first letter to Dull on Dec. 18, but it was almost three months after that when the review, at the urging of Slaughter, was initiated. Slaughter said yesterday he did not think the athletic department unduly delayed looking into the matter.
But he then said: "Based upon what appeared to be the level of the charges at that time after a preliminary look, it may be that, rightly or wrongly, they developed the early position that there may not be much substance to the charges because they were not easily collaborated and substantiated by others.
"Certainly at the time when I became aware of it [following a letter from Welsh with more current allegations], I immediately had a conversation with Mr. Dull and Gothard Lane and asked them to try to find out what the facts were."
Slaughter also said that even though Welsh had a biased point of view because of her connection with Beasley, Welsh's allegations could not be dismissed or the problems discounted if proven true.