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Driesell Testifies He Learned Immediately of Bias' Cocaine Use

May 29, 1987

Lefty Driesell, former Maryland basketball coach, testified Thursday that he was told within hours of the death of Len Bias that his star player had collapsed after using cocaine supplied by Brian Tribble.

It was the first acknowledgement Driesell has made of drug use by the All-American forward. The day after Bias' death, Driesell said he would be shocked to learn that Bias had used cocaine, adding it would have been "completely out of character."

Driesell resigned under pressure last October after 17 years as coach. His departure followed a summer of grand jury proceedings and revelations of widespread academic shortcomings among Maryland athletes.

Driesell, testifying during the fourth day of Tribble's trial for alleged cocaine distribution, said he was told of the drug use by Bias by players Terry Long and David Gregg at a closed-door meeting in the basement of his home.

"(The players) said that Brian brought in some cocaine and Leonard snorted it and Brian warned him, 'Don't put your head back, you'll have a header,' " Driesell said.

Driesell said that he was told that Bias responded, "I'm tough," before collapsing about 6:30 a.m. in the university dormitory room. He was pronounced dead later that morning of cocaine-induced heart failure.

Prince George's County Circuit Judge James Rea said that Driesell's testimony should not be considered as proof in the case since it contradicts first-hand testimony from both Long and Gregg.

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