UW probe finds drug overuse in softball; Pac-10 exonerates Neuheisel

An internal investigation of the UW softball program found that a team doctor improperly prescribed and distributed large quantities of narcotic medicine and other prescription drugs to UW softball players from 1999 to 2003, the UW announced April 27.

In a separate development, the Pac-10 closed its investigation of gambling on college basketball by former Football Coach Rick Neuheisel, levying only minor penalties on the UW.

President Lee Huntsman ordered the drug probe last October, after state health investigators charged that former volunteer physician William Scheyer was distributing narcotics and other prescribed drugs, often without proper documentation or physical exams.

The UW investigation panel also reported that former trainer Craig Moriwaki distributed controlled substances to softball players, sometimes without Scheyer’s knowledge. Moriwaki resigned in 2002 and Athletic Director Barbara Hedges severed all connections with Scheyer last October.

The panel stated that the drugs included narcotic pain relievers, stimulants, anti-depressants, muscle relaxants and even birth control pills. Evidence showed that officials “knew or should have known” about the drug overuse, including Hedges, Softball Coach Teresa Wilson, Assistant Softball Coach Scott Centala and Senior Assistant Athletic Director Marie Tuite, the report said.

At the press conference, President Huntsman said that the health care of student athletes was of paramount importance. “We failed. This is to me deeply troubling and painful. We will do better,” he said.

The UW removed former Softball Coach Teresa Wilson from the team in December and did not renew her contract. Wilson is suing the UW for wrongful termination.

The panel said “the evidence makes it likely that Wilson’s actions isolated the softball team and created an environment that allowed Dr. Scheyer and Moriwaki to overuse medications.” While other UW sports shifted their team physicians to UW Medicine in the late 1990s, Wilson urged that the softball program keep Scheyer, who was not a member of the UW practice group.

In other sports news, UW officials were pleased when the presidents of the Pac-10 Conference schools voted April 12 to impose mild penalties following an investigation into high stakes gambling on college basketball by former Football Coach Rick Neuheisel and recruiting violations involving boat trips across Lake Washington.

During the investigation, the Pac-10 had considered a “failure to monitor” violation that would have resulted in severe penalties. Instead, its compliance committee dropped that charge when it made its recommendations in March. The committee proposed one year of probation for the UW, reducing football recruiting visits and restrictions on boat trips, and the Pac-10 presidents ratified the plan.