Coach's Corner

When will it ever end? The Dr. Feelgood saga at the University of Washington seems to have nine lives. It simply won't go away. Suits, counter suits, dismissals, retirements, reassignments, accusations, character assassinations, investigations, and charges of sexism, and all in the athletic department?

Wow, somebody get me through this period of shame before the Oregon Ducks tell every single recruit that the Huskies are going on "probation and maybe even getting the "death penalty". Don't think it won't happen.

While we're at it, let's feel sorry for the unfortunate softball players that almost got strung out on prescription pain pills that they willingly and knowingly took. Does it strike anyone else as weird that it wasn't their decision and it wasn't their choice to take more than the prescribed amount? And when asked why, they blamed it on the coach who was a "hard ass" and not very "nice" lady?

That seemed a bit strange to me.

Nobody forces you take drugs in college. You do so because you choose to do so. Whether it's aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, codeine, Demerol, wine, pot, coke, speed, uppers, downers, antidepressants, Ritalin, Whiskey, Vitamin B-12 shots, steroids, antihistamines, or simply an espresso latte, you and you alone determine what goes into your body. You don't get a shot, have an operation, have a cast put on, or get worked on by a trainer without first giving your own personal consent to proceed. That is the way it is done at the University of Washington, and at every school in America.

Drugs and their distribution are certainly at the center of this latest Husky problem. This crisis has rocked the foundation of all Husky athletics. It (this scandal) is not worse than the scandalous behavior of University Doctors for over billing Medicare and patients to the tune of millions of dollars. It is not near as important as the many medical malpractice cases still pending against UW doctors.

But it cannot be ignored, that's for sure.

It seems that Dr. Bill Scheyer went overboard in his zeal to "help" student-athletes, and now an entire athletic department is being indicted for his questionable procedures. That is akin to assuming that Washington is the only school in America to have had basketball pools.

Want to place a wager on that? Never mind…

This is a case involving a 76-year old man who takes his oath seriously when it comes to alleviating someone's pain. He had no intentions of hurting anyone. Quite the contrary, he only wanted to help. He largely donated his time and efforts (and the drugs for that matter).

But he broke procedure, he probably broke laws, and his indiscretions could have broken lives. It certainly shattered his own life. This whole affair is about one man who thought he was really helping but went way overboard to be part of the team. Dr Scheyer is a nice, sensitive old man who simply wanted to help in any way he could. He did it the old school way. Unfortunately, he put a lot of people at risk and ruined the reputation of a team, himself, and an entire university.

Teresa Wilson is a friend of mine. She was a damn good coach who really drove her program hard. I helped her start her program with recruiting when I was still at the school. The circumstances that resulted in her "reassignment" stem from Dr. Scheyer's actions and her knowledge of them, or lack thereof. There was no "witch hunt" to remove this "woman" and to protect the "male" coaches. She was already over the edge herself.

Wilson was obsessed with winning and demanded great sacrifices out of her players. Sure, it seemed like they were practicing all the time. Sure, they were traveling all the time playing 80 some games a year. Sure, they were missing more school than any other athletes at Washington. Sure, they were one of the elite teams in America. Sure, she probably stretched the rules with regard to practice and "hard work". Sure, she was old school and didn't treat the girls nice all the time.

But she built one of the best programs at the school from nothing into a national powerhouse. She got what ever she wanted from the Athletic Department because she won, and nobody really wanted to know the truth about how she was doing it. Coach Wilson could do no wrong in the eyes of her boss. She had a carte blanche to spend and do whatever she wanted.

Not knowing the difference, Barbara Hedges only "assumed" that her coach knew the rules and was obeying them. Hedges allowed for an unbelievable overrun on the softball stadium construction. She approved the addition of a lounge or training room to be added even after millions in overspending.

Teresa Wilson ran her program with great autonomy. She was totally committed to winning and building a great program no matter what the cost.

What it did was eventually cost her a job.

She got fired ("reassigned"). Barbara Hedges got fired ("early retirement") and Rick Neuheisel got fired (no need for clarification here). All are gone now because of gambling, lying (sort of), or drugs.

Drugs are a problem in America. They are prevalent in all sports, amateur and professional. When I played football at WSU we regularly went to the team doctor for all sorts of assistance. The most popular one was called percodan at the time. It was a pain medication that was regularly handed out and I consumed a lot of them. We actually called them "Cougar caps" because they looked red and grey. They were abused by the players and I'm sure the team doctors suspected it. I can remember getting crack-back blocked against Oregon State. It was a violent clip that drew a penalty but really tore up my knee. At half time they gave me a shot in my knee and one in my hip, and then after the game gave me pills to deaden the pain once the shots wore off. That was followed up by sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. I willingly took all of them and never really had a prescription or examination. Hell, I had just blown my knee out. I didn't need a Doctor's diagnosis to tell me I was in pain.

I took those pills because I chose to do so. We should not be talking about lack of institutional control, but rather a lack of "personal" control by those who "chose" to abuse drugs and medication. Just because someone gives you drugs doesn't mean you have to take them. It is still your choice.

We had all sorts of drug problems at Washington during the 15 years I was there. Do I think it was worse than any other school? No. I'm not that naïve. The current scandal is very important, and needs to be addressed, don't misunderstand that. But does it mean that the athletic department has been guilty of "lack of institutional control?" Everyone will have a different answer to that one.

The biggest drug problem at all universities is the same drug. It is called beer. It has been the most abused substance on college campuses for the last five decades. I think most can agree on that. . . .

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