Posts Tagged ‘University of Maryland’

Congressional Misstep

November 10, 2013

Congress Passes the Anti-Drug Abuse Act

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, passed in direct response to the death of Len Bias, reestablished mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders that had been removed from federal law in 1970. It stated that a person manufacturing or distributing at least 500 grams of powder cocaine faced a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, with a maximum 40 years, and those manufacturing or distributing at least 5,000 grams of powder cocaine received a 10-year minimum sentence, with a maximum of life imprisonment. A person manufacturing or distributing at least 5 grams of crack cocaine received the five-year mandatory minimum while those manufacturing or distributing at least 50 grams of that form of the drug received the minimum 10-year sentence. For sentences longer than the minimum, there was no hope of parole; it had been abolished in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. By comparison, someone would have to possess 100 grams of heroin or 100 kilos of marijuana to receive the same five-year sentence with no parole as someone found with 5 grams of crack cocaine.

The 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act applied the mandatory sentences of the 1986 act to anyone who was a member of a drug-trafficking conspiracy. Under the law, if a defendant worked as a doorman to a crack house but never sold, used or purchased the drug, he was liable for all the crack sold during the time the group operated the crack house, even before and after he worked as a doorman. Within six years of passage of the conspiracy amendment in 1988, the number of drug cases in federal prisons increased by 300 percent. From 1986 to 1998, that number increased 450 percent.

Eric E. Sterling, a federal sentencing reform advocate, from 1979 to 1989 was counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, and was also a principal aide in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988. In 1989 he switched roles from federal policy wonk to consumer advocate when he became president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private, nonprofit group that promotes education about criminal justice problems.

He admits now that passing the anti-drug bills was a mistake. “The legacy of this legislation should be whether or not it has succeeded in making the United States a safer, healthier place for its citizens,” says Sterling, who has become an advocate for sentencing reform. “From my perspective, it has not. It failed. I did not think at that time that mandatory sentencing was a good idea. But the members of Congress and the Judiciary committee were my clients and that was my assignment. I had certain kinds of concerns and reservations about that kind of approach. This weighs on me a great deal.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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Changes in Terps Athletics

November 10, 2013

Maryland Athletics Restructures

By the early 1990s, that culture was one of discomfort and uncertainty. A big reason was perhaps the most significant move made by Perkins, toward the end of his three years at Maryland. On May 16, 1990, he announced that varsity teams would be restructured into four tiers. That day, he also said the school would eliminate athletic scholarships in eight of its 23 varsity sports and would reduce scholarship money by 70 percent in five others. Perkins said a budget crisis made worse by NCAA sanctions against the men’s basketball team prompted the moves.

Six sports – football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, women’s volleyball and women’s field hockey – were placed in the first tier. Those sports, which had a history of competing for NCAA national honors, received $1.5 million of the $1.871 million available for scholarships. In the second tier, four sports – women’s lacrosse, men’s wrestling, and men’s and women’s soccer – each received $64,000 in scholarship money, representing a 15% cut in aid. These sports were expected to contend for ACC championships.

Third-tier sports would have their scholarship aid reduced by 70 percent: baseball, men’s and women’s swimming, and men’s and women’s cross-country would each receive $25,000 in scholarship money and compete regionally. Men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track, men’s golf, women’s gymnastics, and men’s and women’s tennis were placed in the lowest level and would operate without scholarships. They would compete locally except for ACC competitions.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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Boston Celtics

November 8, 2013

A Dynasty Crumbles

The 1985-86 Celtics were arguably one of the best teams in NBA history, compiling a 67-15 record, notching the second-most wins in a season in team history and winning their third consecutive division title on the way to becoming NBA champions. In 1986-87, the Celtics were considered strong favorites to win their fourth NBA title in seven seasons and almost did, winning their division again before losing to the Detroit Pistons 4-2 in the NBA finals. By the mid-1990s, the Celtics–which has won more NBA titles than any other franchise– had evolved to become one of the worst teams in the NBA, in part due to death of Reggie Lewis in 1993.

Steve Bulpett wrote about the death of Bias for the Boston Herald, where he has covered the Celtics for nearly three decades. The day Bias was drafted in 1986, Bulpett flew on the same airplane from New York to Boston as Bias. A couple of days later, he traveled to College Park to report on the player’s death. He remembers after a long day of exhaustive reporting telling himself that Bias’s death was the worst thing he would ever have to write about while covering the Celtics. “I spoke too soon,” says Bulpett. “Bias’s death was a shock, but Lewis’s death was more traumatic not only because he had played for the Celtics but because he played for Northeastern (University on Boston). He was part of the community. Bias to Celtics fans was a ghost. Lewis was the guy they lived with for years.”

The season after Lewis died, the Celtics finished 32-50, its worst record since the 1978-79 team that won only 29 games. Through the 2001 season, the Celtics never won more than 36 games in a season, and employed four different coaches. They recorded losing records for eight consecutive seasons. The 1996-97 team won only 15 games, the lowest total in the team’s history. Dee Brown, a sixth-year guard, said in a Boston Globe story that people called the Celtics a “laughingstock. We had no direction.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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Jay Bias

November 6, 2013

Another Bias son dies tragically

Windowless and bleacher-less, the drab beige box with the synthetic floor isn’t much to look at. But typical of basketball courts in the rec centers of middle-class black communities for more than a quarter century, it’s not the floors and walls that count. It’s what happens on the former and what decorates the latter. On the far wall of the court at Columbia Park Recreation Center – The Rec – in Landover is a poster announcing the dedication of the Wharton “Mack” Lee Madkins Gymnasium on November 25, 2002.

For decades, Madkins was the director of the center and helped coach Bias and others in both football and basketball. The poster contains a collage of photos that reflect Madkins’s influence on the thousands of children he guided during his reign at The Rec. Madkins poses by a mantle of trophies. Madkins comforts a young boy. Madkins stands with his assistant coaches in a football team picture. Madkins tucks a football under one arm as he gently places the other around the shoulder of a young, smiling player, above words attributed to Madkins that read: “They may leave, but they always find a way back.”

Many of those who Madkins coached or mentored through the years have indeed returned to the Columbia Park area. Some, such as Waller and Walker, not only returned but took on roles similar to that of Madkins, teaching younger boys about sports and life. But some were not so lucky. One, Jay Bias, is part of the picture on the bottom right of the poster. He flashes an easy smile and wears a green T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Boston Celtics” in bright, white letters. Jay’s legend at The Rec is as profound as Len’s, for different yet sadly parallel reasons. Neither made it back.

In late 1990 Jay had gone to a jewelry store in Prince George’s Plaza to check on an engagement ring he had ordered for the girlfriend he had dated throughout high school. In the store Bias saw Jerry Tyler, who accused Jay of flirting with his wife, a store clerk. The two men argued. As Bias walked away with two friends, Tyler said “C’mon outside, c’mon outside,” one of the friends, Andre Campbell, said in a news report. Bias responded, “Look, I’m just purchasing a ring… all this stuff ain’t necessary, man.” Campbell said that minutes later someone in a Mercedes-Benz drove up next to the car in which Jay sat in the passenger seat while waiting at a stop sign outside the mall. Someone from the car fired, killing him.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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Brian Tribble

November 5, 2013

Incarcerated

For the last quarter century, since partying with Bias, David Gregg and Terry Long on June 19, 1986, Tribble has been forced to defend himself against the prevailing theory that he provided the fatal cocaine. His raspy, spacy voice on the 911 call from the scene was played repeatedly on newscasts in the ensuing days, shattering Tribble’s anonymity. “I’ve done a lot of shit that was bad, but I became a drug dealer after [Bias died],” he says during a later phone conversation. “Before that I was just a light-skinned dude running around [the Maryland] campus.”

Just before noon on August 6, 1990, Tribble turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals Service in Baltimore, Maryland. At Tribble’s detention hearing, prosecutors claimed he was responsible for distributing between nine and twenty two pounds of cocaine per month and engaged in a “consistent pattern” of drug trafficking, not related to Len Bias. On October 15, 1993, Tribble was sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison and received credit for the time he had already served.  While incarcerated, Tribble earned a fitness certification and shortly after leaving prison, he landed a job as a trainer at a Bally’s fitness center in northwest Washington, D.C. Tribble says he was fired after only about 30 days, but was never given a reason. “Maybe it was because I was Brian Tribble,” he says, referring to his reputation as the person who killed Len Bias.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #35…Tony Massenburg

November 3, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

A Robust NBA Career

Of all the players on the Maryland roster in 1985-86, Tony Massenburg was the one few predicted would be one of the more enduring pro players in Maryland history. But by the time he played his last NBA game in 2005, Massenburg had played in the league for 13 seasons for 12 different teams. The only former Maryland players who have forged longer NBA careers are Buck Williams (17 seasons), Joe Smith (16) and John Lucas (14).

Like many of his teammates, Massenburg thought about transferring out of Maryland after Bias’s death. “I thought that I’d seen the worst this program had to offer,” he said, “so why should I leave for some place that may even be worse? I could’ve said, ‘This is it. I’m not doing this anymore. Somebody is out to get me.’ I kept striving. Besides, I really liked the area and the people I made friends with. I still thought I could make something of myself up here. I knew there would be a rainbow at the end of all of this.”

“I can honestly say there hasn’t been anybody in the history of NCAA basketball – barring injury – that has had a rougher career at one school than I have,” he says.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

Jeff Baxter

November 2, 2013

A Long Transition to Acceptance

Once burdened by the death of Bias, his close friend and roommate of four years, Jeff Baxter now talks comfortably about the trying times he endured in the few years that followed. He agreed to be interviewed for Without Bias but says that in the past he has mostly been very guarded about what he has discussed. Baxter agreed to talk at length because he says he has nothing to hide. “It took a while for me to come to grips with it,” he says. “I avoided countless interviews with numerous people over the years, and only because I thought at the time that it may be a target session for Coach Driesell and Lenny’s family. I can see why it haunts a lot of people.”

Baxter says that, until a few years ago, something would happen every day that would make him think about Bias. Now, he mostly reflects on his friend and teammate only when asked. At the D.C.- area premiere of Without Bias in 2010, Baxter abruptly walked away from the entrance before the showing when he saw cameras. He says he waited across the street until the excitement faded. “That wasn’t a celebratory moment to me,” he says.“That wasn’t a moment to gain or regain fame.” During a bathroom break that night, Baxter spotted Steve Francis, a Maryland star for just one year in 1998 before joining the NBA. Francis was crying so hysterically that Baxter remembers him barely able to stand up. “He said ‘You guys were the reason I went [to Maryland],’ ” says Baxter. “But I’m sure he meant Lenny, because he was the star.” To Baxter, Bias’s legacy is simple: He was a great basketball player who made a bad choice. As he sat alone at the Saloun the evening of June 19, 1986, Baxter realized that life was too short and that one never knows what will happen next. He says Bias’s death solidified lessons his parents had taught him. “You’ve just got to be careful about the choices you make, because not all of them are going to be right,” he says.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #33…Teammate Speedy Jones

November 1, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

A Positive Change

Within a few minutes of beginning a phone conversation in May 2011, Tom “Speedy” Jones says that Bias’s death renewed his faith in God. Jones, a classmate and teammate, admits that by the time he began his Maryland career in 1984 as a junior college transfer, he had stopped going to church. “The sad thing is, it’s a hard thing to say, but it was a positive thing for me,” he says. “It made me take a look at how I was living my life. During that year, I was the worst. I had no respect [for anyone], period. Anyone would tell you, if I went into a restaurant, I treated everyone with disrespect. When [Len] died, I knew I had to get my life straight. I’m here by the grace of God.”

To avoid the unwanted attention that was engulfing Maryland’s players after the tragedy, Jones said in the Herald, “I took the first flight out to Europe. I couldn’t come out of the apartment without a camera getting into my face.” He played one year in Europe, when he found out he couldn’t avoid the topic of Bias’s death. “I thought I could get away from it over there. But over there were the same questions.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

Teammate Terry Long

October 31, 2013

Terry Long Stays Quiet

Terry Long appears to be the only member of the 1985-86 Maryland team who has not talked publicly about the Bias death aside from his statements made under oath during the Brian Tribble trial. During a brief phone call in the spring of 2011, he was asked to talk about how Bias’s death has affected his life. He responded twice, politely and calmly, saying, “I’m not interested.” In subsequent calls he provided only brief background information.

Teammate Jeff Baxter says Long returned to the Maryland campus for the first time when the school’s athletic department honored Driesell at a Maryland basketball game against North Carolina State in 2003. “I think Terry’s been deeply hurt about this whole event,” says Baxter. “He’s very standoffish. I think Terry thinks this is his fault. I think he would put that type of pressure on himself.”

Another teammate, Tom “Speedy” Jones says Long broke down and “told him everything” about how Bias died, but he did not provide details. He says that every time he talks to Long about Bias, he can still see the pain in Long’s eyes. Keith Gatlin, who entered Maryland the same year as Long, talks with him occasionally and visits him in Baltimore. He wishes Long would talk. “It would be therapeutic for Terry,” he says. “And the perception of Terry that he was a bad guy or not a good kid is something that is really not true.”

As of July 2011, Long was living in the Baltimore area with his wife and three other children. He worked at the W.R. Grace Company and as a part-time high-school basketball referee.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

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Teammate David Gregg

October 31, 2013

Gregg Loses a “Cousin”

More than any other member of the 1985-86 team, David Gregg – coming from the same high school, playing for the same coach – lives in the large and looming shadow of Len Bias. During his freshman year at Maryland, Gregg developed a strong friendship with Bias. At 6 feet, 9 inches and just under 200 pounds, Gregg could have passed as Bias’s brother; in fact, they jokingly referred to each other as cousins.

But Gregg never got the chance to prove his worth at Maryland. Instead, he spent the summer of 1986 as a recluse, a reluctant participant in a great tragedy. His testimony before a grand jury investigating Bias’s death resulted in an indictment against him for possession of cocaine and obstruction of justice. The charges were dropped in exchange for testifying against Tribble at Tribble’s trial.

After he was indicted, Gregg was suspended from the basketball team for the next season, but he continued to attend classes and played in occasional pickup games. In early July 1987, Gregg announced that he would transfer from Maryland. “It’s been very tough,” Gregg said at the time. “Wherever I go, people point and say, ‘Oh, there goes David Gregg.’ I’ve been getting more attention for this than I did for my basketball.”

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)