This week in Duke history: Duke baseball coach encourages players to use steroids

It was bad enough for Duke baseball that the team was 9-27 late in the 2005 season.

Then The Chronicle broke a story that the team’s head coach, Bill Hillier, had implicitly encouraged his players to use steroids during his six-year tenure.

The Chronicle ran an editorial on April 15, 2005 demanding the firing of Hillier after two former players told The Chronicle they had taken steroids during the summer of 2002. One of the players who spoke to the Chronicle, Aaron Kempster, attempted suicide in the fall of 2002. He said mood swings induced by the steroids he was taking likely led to the incident.

During Hillier’s time at the helm, the team went 121-214 and saw 22 of its players leave early, with 12 transfers. Six former players estimated that between four and 12 baseball players took steroids at some point.

The athletic program learned of an isolated incident in 2002 when infielder Grant Stanley was caught in his dorm room with a synthetic form of testosterone and went to jail. The school then began testing for steroids more rigorously, and had not caught anyone after that point and by the time the story broke.

Duke president Richard Broached also received notice in a letter about steroid use, but the school said there was not any evidence and that it took extra precautions based on the new information.

Sure enough, at the end of the 14-39 season, Duke fired Hillier. He stayed away from the game for the next 12 years, but became an assistant coach at Asheville High School in Asheville, N.C., this spring under his son, Bill Hillier Jr.

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