COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former student-athletes from more than a dozen Ohio State sports teams have now reported alleged sexual misconduct by a university doctor who died in 2005.
Investigators have scheduled or conducted interviews with more than 130 people who said they have information about possible misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, the university said Thursday. Reports also came from former non-athlete patients of the student health center.
Strauss was an associate professor of medicine at Ohio State and served as a doctor to athletic teams from 1981 to 1995. In addition to his team duties, Strauss worked at the university medical center and student health center.
Reports of alleged misconduct have come from athletes affiliated with baseball, cheerleading, cross-country, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling.
Strauss’ personnel file, also released Thursday, offered no clues the university was aware of alleged sexual misconduct by the doctor. The file is full of letters from high-ranking university officials congratulating Strauss as various appointments and the awarding of tenure were announced over the years.
That includes praise for Strauss meeting “the high standards of your faculty peers and of this University” from former Ohio State president Edward Jennings in 1983.
In a 1980 memo, Strauss provides an indication of his duties, including contact with athletes. “Currently, I spend about 20 percent of my time in clinical sports medicine with OSU Varsity athletes, at the Sports Medicine Clinic of the Student Health Service and at the Larkins Hall training room daily in the late afternoon,” he wrote.
In January 1998, the medical school dean at the time, Bernadine Healy, questioned without any detail a recommendation that Strauss receive “professor emeritus” status upon his retirement.
“I had not approved!” a handwritten note from Healy says. The late Healy later became the first woman to direct the National Institutes of Health and also was the leader of the American Red Cross.
Ohio State University President Michael Drake had asked alumni for help with the Strauss investigation, sending an email last month to more than 100,000 who attended the university from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, when the alleged misconduct occurred.
Drake asked alumni with information about allegations to contact Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie, which Ohio State hired earlier this month to conduct an independent investigation. The matter also has been referred to Columbus police and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
Perkins Coie provided an update to the university via a letter read Thursday during a meeting of the audit and compliance committee of Ohio State’s board of trustees. Perkins Coie also will try to determine the extent of the university’s knowledge of the allegations during Strauss’ tenure at the university.
“I want to reiterate our sincere appreciation to the alumni and others who have come forward — for the courage it takes in circumstances like these and for their assistance in helping us to deal with this issue in a straightforward and clear fashion,” Drake said. “These are deeply troubling allegations. We are committed to get to the bottom of this.”
The university has launched a website to provide information about the investigation.
An article in the campus newspaper from 1984 said Strauss was selected to test Olympic athletes for illegal drug use during the Summer Games in Los Angeles.
Other articles published during the 1980s said Strauss studied injury rates among wrestlers and other athletes, as well as the effects of steroid use.
The Associated Press could not find any relatives of Strauss who could be asked to comment on the allegations.
Associated Press Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.