Dick Dull, the athletic director at the University of Maryland, said yesterday that, while his office is cooperating with authorities investigating the death of basketball star Len Bias, he has no plans to give drug tests to the other players who were in Bias' dormitory suite at the time of his collapse early Thursday morning.
"Right now, I believe this whole matter is out of my jurisdiction, and it is being handled by the medical examiner and the two police departments campus and Prince George's County ," Dull said.
Dull and Maryland Chancellor John B. Slaughter said they would not begin any independent investigations before the police are finished.
"My posture has been from the time this occurred and the rumors began to float around, that I was going to do nothing but defer to the three agencies involved in all of this," Dull said. "I believe those people are more equipped to handle this one than I am. After all, we have a dead person involved. That's way out of my league.
"Once they do their investigation and file their reports, then perhaps this department would come into play in reacting to that."
In other developments, it was learned that: Bias in April took out an accident and death insurance policy with Lloyd's of London, after signing with the Advantage International agency, according to Lee Fentress, a partner in the agency. The Bias family is expected to file a claim.
Fentress declined to reveal the amount of the policy, but the Associated Press reported it to be in excess of $1 million. Less than two hours after Bias died Thursday morning, players gathered at Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell's house. While they were there, Driesell discussed with them "what should be publicized and what shouldn't be publicized," according to reserve center Phil Nevin. Nevin declined to discuss specifics. Two Prince George's County police detectives visited Driesell's home Thursday night and gave him what a source described as a complete briefing, including the fact that a foreign substance had been found in Bias' body fluids and that they considered the substance to have contributed to his death. Red Auerbach, the president of the Boston Celtics who selected Bias as the No. 2 player in the NBA draft, said he talked to Driesell earlier Thursday, and Driesell told him, "There's some sort of an indication that there might be some drug involvement, or something like that, on a one-time basis ," according to Auerbach. Four or five players sought legal advice, initially from the campus legal aid office. "A lot of players have gone through difficult times and it's inappropriate to make a statement what our office has done and with whom," said William G. Salmond, director of that office.
Police, who had been seeking basketball players Terry Long and David Gregg -- both in the suite they shared with Bias at the time of his collapse, have arranged to interview them Monday; they were believed to be awake and with Bias when he collapsed. Teammate Keith Gatlin, another suitemate, was questioned by police Thursday night, but was not tested for drugs.
Driesell declined comment on all subjects late yesterday. Earlier, he appeared on the ABC-TV show "Good Morning America" and, when asked specifically if drugs might have been involved, said initially, "I would be very, very surprised."
When a Boston Globe story citing Auerbach's comments was brought to his attention, he replied, "I told him that . . . from what I understood from the police, that there was a trace of cocaine in his urine. But, again, if that's the case, it was completely out of character for Leonard Bias. I would be completely shocked."
Dull said, "From all the rumor mill that is going on at this time, nothing would surprise me."
He also said, "I believe this is a single isolated event. It may well have greater ramifications. But I wouldn't want to speculate on that. I believe it's the reaction to Lenny Bias' death and the fact that the Prince George's County Police have labeled it suspicious, and I have to go by their judgment.
"I mean it's difficult for me to understand a young man, 22 years of age, in such good condition, being alive one minute and his heart stopping the next. I just hope and pray that the tragedy isn't going to be compounded by cocaine being involved."
Regarding the gathering at Driesell's house, Dull said it came about at his suggestion, although he did not instruct Driesell what to say.
"Under the set of circumstances, and the tragedy, and the moment involving the pronouncement of death, there was chaos at that hospital," Dull said. "I suggested he get the team together, go over to his house and get away from reporters."
Dull said he was told it would take seven to 10 days to determine the cause of death. "I hope it doesn't," he said. "I'd like to have it this afternoon. I'd like to lay to rest once and for all these rumors. If they're true, let's accept them. And if they're not true, let's refute them. I'm not suggesting that we stop there. I'm just suggesting that let's lay the issue of -- was there cocaine in his body? -- aside."
Dull declined to say what the consequences would be if other players were involved in the use of drugs. "I don't want to speculate on that. We'll have to go across that bridge when we reach it, if we do," he said.
"We have to see what it the police investigation says," Slaughter said. "I'd hate to speculate on that."
Bias had taken one insurance policy with Lloyd's of London after he decided to remain at Maryland for his senior year, Fentress said in a telephone interview. "They paid the premium themselves, the family did," Fentress said.
That policy has expired and it is the policy Bias took out in April that is reported to be worth more than $1 million. Fentress declined to discuss whether the Bias family would be able to collect.
An attorney familiar with these kinds of policies said, "They're never easy to collect on, Lloyd's of London policies. There are all sorts of exclusions claimed, exceptions. It's a long, laboring process, generally. It's not like calling State Farm. Bill Walton spent five years in litigation."
Auerbach, who returned to his Washington home yesterday, said he planned to meet with Driesell either today or Monday. He said he has talked by phone with Driesell "a couple of times each day." Auerbach said Driesell told him about the possible drug use in one of those calls.
"He swore to me that, 'We tested him,' " Auerbach said. "Plus we examined him and so did Golden State and New York. So if it was drugs , it was undoubtedly a first-time experiment. He Bias was so happy, you know, to experiment somebody must have talked him into something. You know what I mean. But that's all I know."
Auerbach was in no mood to talk about the effect of losing his potential superstar.
"I don't even care about that right now. I really don't," he said. ". . . You know, the kid is dead and it's a tragedy. Why look for problems right now?
" . . . The one thing I can tell you is that the players were devastated. Larry Bird was. Kevin McHale came down to the office. M.L. Carr was around. He came in. Danny Ainge was in. They just all wanted to find out.
They were sad because very seldom has a kid been accepted so readily."Staff writers Bill Brubaker and Sally Jenkins contributed to this report.