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Player on Basketball Champs Says He Used Cocaine in Final Four

March 12, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gary McLain, the guard on Villanova’s 1985 NCAA championship team, says he used cocaine during the Final Four that year and was high when the team visited the White House.

McLain detailed his drug dependency and subsequent rehabilitation in a first-person story in the March 16 edition of Sports Illustrated.

He said he was treated for drug abuse at the White Deer Treatment Center in Allenwood, Pa., last summer after he was fired from his Wall Street job.

McLain, 23, said he used cocaine before several Wildcat games, including the 1985 NCAA semifinal against Memphis State in Lexington, Ky.

″I had played well on coke, I had played bad on it,″ he said in the story. ″It didn’t seem to matter. So I did about a quarter gram of blow before the national semifinal in the bathroom of room 135 of the Ramada Inn, about three miles from Rupp Arena.″

McLain scored nine points and had two assists as Villanova defeated Memphis State 52-45. The Wildcats then upset Georgetown 66-64 to win the national title, with McLain chipping in eight points and two assists.

Recalling the team’s visit to the White House, McLain said, ″I was standing in the Rose Garden, wired on cocaine.″

″President Reagan was welcoming my teammates and me at the White House and giving his little speech about how inspirational our victory was. And the cocaine had me floating in my own private world.″

McLain said he had strange thoughts while watching Reagan.

″I was standing a couple of feet behind him, looking in his hair, thinking, this guy has more dandruff than your average man. Thinking thoughts like, I could push him in the head, just a little tap, and make news across the world. That’s how high I was.″

On his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino said McLain’s revelations were the ″most devastating thing that has happened to me in 30 years of coaching.″

″I am crushed,″ he said. ″I really, really am.″

Phoenix Suns’ forward Ed Pinckney, a college teammate and roommate of McLain’s, said Wednesday he was shocked by the story.

″I really didn’t know he had this problem,″ Pinckney said. ″The things I’m reading about don’t sound like the person I knew.″

McLain said other players on Villanova used marijuana. He did not identify them.

″I would buy a nickel bag of pot here and there, a dime bag sometimes. My friends and I would smoke it up. Freshman year, I smoked alone quite a bit, too. It wouldn’t be until my sophomore year that some of my teammates would smoke with me,″ he said.

Pinckney said he wasn’t aware of any drug use by his Villanova teammates.

In the article, McLain said Massimino confronted him twice in 1984 about drug use. The first time, McLain said, Massimino told him, ″ ‘I hear you’re on cocaine, or selling it. If I find out, you’re gone.’ ″

McLain said he managed to escape detection because players were never given a urinalysis.

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