28 Years After His Death, Maryland Inducts Bias Into Hall of Fame
Greatest Terp basketball player ever died of cocaine overdose two days after being drafted by Boston Celtics.
By Ron Cassie. Posted on July 17, 2014, 11:42 am
Better late than never? Almost three decades after the greatest Maryland Terrapin basketball player ever died of a cocaine overdose, the University of Maryland athletics department and M Club announced Wednesday that Len Bias will be inducted into the school's athletics Hall of Fame.
Finishing his career as Maryland’s all-time leader in more than 15 categories, Bias led Maryland to four consecutive NCAA appearances and the 1984 ACC Tournament title. Bias died June 19, 1986, two days after the world champion Boston Celtics made him the second pick in the NBA draft.
Along with Bias, men’s lacrosse player Bob Boneillo; track and field/football player Edward Cooke; field hockey and women’s lacrosse player Maureen ‘Bean’ Scott Dupcak; women’s lacrosse player Alex Kahoe; women’s basketball player Debbie Lytle; athletic trainer Sandy Worth; and football player Charlie Wysocki will be inducted Oct. 3 at a ceremony in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center.
Bias's tragic death shook up the basketball world and the University of Maryland athletics department, ultimately leading to head coach Lefty Driesell’s resignation in 1986.
It's taken the school a long time to get over those issues, but it seems like most are finally ready to forgive Bias, 22 years old at the time of his death, for making a mistake which he paid for with his life. ESPN Films explored Bias's story in context several years ago in the documentary, Without Bias, (below) which is worth a watch.
“We all know it’s a very sensitive issue. A lot of changes were made to the university back in the day because of this situation [Bias's death],” Kevin Glover, executive director of the M Club, which oversees the selection process, told The Baltimore Sun. "Once we discussed it and the votes came in, we decided it was time to move forward and honor one of our greatest student-athletes ever.”
The Washington Post put up competing opinions today on Bias’s induction, with long-time basketball writer and author John Feinstein comparing Bias to Pete Rose and arguing against his induction into the Maryland Hall of Fame. In response, Jeff Ermann makes the case that whatever the statute of limitations for Bias’s poor choice, it has certainly run its course by now.
This is what his old coach told The Sun, and we tend to agree:
“It’s great to hear about Lenny,” said Driesell, who was forced to resign after 17 seasons in the tumult that followed Bias’ death. “I was elated that he got in. It’s a long time coming.”
Ron Cassie is a senior editor for Baltimore, where he covers the environment, education, medicine, politics, and city life.