Notre Dame said today five football players have tested positive for steroid use in the past three years, but Coach Lou Holtz denied published allegations by a former player that steroid use was widespread and that he must have known about it.
"I totally deny unequivocally everything that was written," Holtz said at a news conference.
He also denied allegations in a Sports Illustrated story written by former Irish lineman Steve Huffman that two assistant coaches suggested players use steroids.
Athletic Director Richard Rosenthal said the players who tested positive were disciplined. He declined to identify them or to say whether any of them were dismissed from the football program or from school.
"None of the five players who had positive tests were permitted to compete in games while steroids were in their system," Rosenthal said.
"We believe that printing this article with Notre Dame not absolutely having a chance to participate or respond to the false charges is unfair, unprofessional and journalistically irresponsible," Rosenthal said.
Huffman, who had two brothers who starred as linemen at Notre Dame, claimed in this week's Sports Illustrated, that "almost half the lettermen at Notre Dame used steroids at some time." He also said some players sold the muscle-building drug, which is banned by the NCAA.
Huffman said he wrote the SI article because of what Holtz said about him in his 1989 book, "The Fighting Spirit: A Championship Season at Notre Dame." In the book, Holtz said Huffman let down his teammates by quitting the squad.
"I wouldn't be going public with the way I feel about Holtz and his program if he hadn't gone public about me," Huffman said.
Huffman had an injury-plagued career at Notre Dame before quitting the team during preseason practice in 1987.
Although Huffman doesn't accuse Holtz of encouraging steroid use, he claims the coach failed to take a strong stand against the drugs, which are known to have dangerous side effects.
"I'm told that other players say that Holtz directly warned them not to use steroids, but I never heard it," said the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Huffman.
"All I ever heard him say was, 'Be careful with steroids.' Whenever I was around, that's all he ever said."