More than 50 Indiana basketball players have been suspended for an alleged “drug” scandal involving a trainer at a nearby university, the latest in a string of college coaches being sued by their own schools.
The suit, filed Friday in a federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the university of mismanaging the investigation into the alleged drug use of a player by a team trainer, who the players say was paid more than $100,000 by the university.
It’s the latest development in a case that has been under investigation for more than a year.
A judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the university from instituting disciplinary measures, including firing the coach.
The lawsuit claims that Indiana athletic director Jay Wright, former coach Chris Del Conte, athletic trainer Tony McRae and athletic director Rick Self also failed to take the allegations seriously.
The coaches and the university, however, are denying the allegations and arguing that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attempt to pressure them to fire Wright.
The players were suspended from team activities in March, and then again in June and July for allegedly taking drugs from a teammate.
They are scheduled to resume team activities next month.
“The plaintiffs allege that their academic and personal well-being have been damaged by the alleged conduct of Coach Wright, who has used the Defendants’ power and authority to force their coaches to lie, fabricate, and cheat on their college basketball players’ drug tests,” the lawsuit reads.
“Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant McRay has forced his coaches to falsely state that he did not have any drug use on his own.
Defendants have falsely accused Plaintiffs of lying on drug tests in order to pressure the Plaintiffs to accept bribes to play NCAA Division I basketball, which Plaintiffs have refused to do.
The Defendants have failed to adequately investigate and prevent the alleged abuse of Plaintiffs’ NCAA Division 1 and NCAA Division 2 eligibility, and have failed, in Plaintiffs own words, to investigate and investigate adequately and diligently to uncover and punish any and all acts of cheating and deception by Defendant McRay.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the players’ personal records and financial records have been destroyed.
The team has since said it will appeal the judge’s decision.
Wright has denied the allegations.
“There’s no truth to these allegations, and the allegations are false and false statements,” he said in a statement released Friday.
“It is unfortunate that this case has become so politicized that it is difficult to know whether or not this is a real investigation.
We will continue to do the best we can to ensure that the students and the fans of the Indiana Hoosiers have a fair and healthy experience at Indiana University.”
Del Coney was hired by Wright in July 2014.
McRai and Del Consey are both former players on the Indiana University men’s basketball team.
The university has not publicly addressed the allegations made in the lawsuit, citing confidentiality rules.
Del Cone said in an email Friday that he has never been disciplined for a substance abuse issue and that he is confident he has complied with NCAA rules.
He also said he has been fully cooperative with the university’s investigations and is cooperating fully with the investigation.
“Coach Del Conrey and I have not had any discussions with the NCAA about the conduct of these allegations,” he wrote.
DelConte is scheduled to return to Indiana for a preseason practice Friday.
He and McRaey are scheduled for another practice Friday afternoon.
The Indiana basketball team is scheduled for a home game against Texas A&M on Aug. 5.