Ralph Sampson, who has spoken out in support of mandatory drug testing in the National Basketball Association, said yesterday he plans to form a foundation that would help high school athletes stay away from drugs and concentrate on their studies.
"A couple of years ago, I had an interest in starting my own institution that would help college-bound student-athletes," said Sampson, who appeared at the Quantico Marine Base to tour the grounds and talk with Drug Enforcement Administration officials about their Sports Drug Awareness program.
"Now I'm going to be able to do it, with the help of the DEA. I want to help kids get what they can out of high school, and then follow it up so they can get a degree in four years."
The foundation is still in the planning stages, Sampson said. "We want to target high school kids, especially the athletes. I know when I went to high school, most kids looked up to the athletes. We want to get the high school coaches involved, so that the athletes will concentrate on academics and be drug-free."
Sampson advocated mandatory drug testing in the NBA on "Meet The Press" last month after the cocaine-induced death of Len Bias. Also on the program was DEA Director John C. Lawn, whose organization had developed a Sports Drug Awareness program in June 1984.
The DEA program targets high school coaches -- teaching them how to spot drug abuse and how to steer their athletes away from it. Lawn's program coincided with many of Sampson's ideas, the former Virginia three-time all-America said, and the two agreed to help each other in combating drug abuse.
No official business was conducted yesterday. "Mr. Lawn just wanted me to meet the guys here," Sampson said.
The 7-foot-4 Houston Rockets forward found time to play in the daily pickup basketball game at the gym here, where he slam-dunked a couple of times and made a few 20-foot shots to the delight of a group of FBI employes.
Sampson said his firm stand against drug abuse resulted from his realization of the adverse effects drugs were having on basketball. "People see a lot of different things happening, but they shouldn't get turned off to basketball," he said. "I hate to see people get down by something like this, which can be stopped."