In the end, of course, that won't have any bearing on the suit. The charges made by the 19-year-old Jennings, who was on Dorrance's '97 team but never played significant minutes, center on the coach's alleged sexual banter with team members and on other supposed abuses of authority, including his knowledge of alcohol use by underage players and his pressuring Jennings to make a $400 bank withdrawal and lend him the money to pay for team refreshments. (Dorrance repaid the loan and, in response to complaints from Jennings's father, Craig, subsequently apologized.) The 23-year-old Keller, a two-time Player of the Year who started for Carolina from 1993 to '96, alleges that Dorrance twice made an "uninvited sexual advance" toward her; that on other occasions he made "inappropriate and uninvited physical contact" by placing "his hands and arms on her body"; and that he would "constantly interrogate" members of his team about their personal lives and sexual activities. (While Dorrance denies these charges, he signed a letter from Carolina athletic director Richard Baddour to Craig Jennings acknowledging that he "participated in group discussions of a jesting or teasing nature" that were "inappropriate.")
The case has prompted plenty of debate about the hazards of men coaching young women in any sport, but the shock has been felt most in the soccer world. Next Jan. 4, players who have received invitations will gather at the U.S. national team's residency camp in Orlando to begin preparation for the 1999 Women's World Cup. Though Dorrance retired as national coach in 1994, the team's coaching staff is stocked with his former assistants and players, and the roster is expected to be dominated by current and past Carolina stars loyal to him. Tracy Ducar, a former UNC goalie and assistant coach who will be trying to win the goalkeeping job, is named as a defendant in the suit (as are her husband, Tar Heels assistant Chris Ducar; his fellow assistant Bill Palladino; and members of the university administration). Of the 23 women who have been invited to the camp so far, 10 play or played for Carolina. Keller, who spent all of 1998 as a member of the national team—including a chilly but incident-free three-game tour two weeks after she filed the suit—isn't among them.
"It was hard for me to go in there," Keller says of that tour. "I know there are people who think [Anson is] like a father. I gave this little speech and told them that anyone who looks at this can see that I have everything to lose. I am putting the career I love on the line because I believe I have to do what's right. I still want to play. But I don't regret anything I've done."
After the suit became public, more than 100 current and former Tar Heels players signed a letter supporting Dorrance and stating, in part, "We are confident that the recent allegations are unfounded.... We have no reservations about our own daughters someday playing soccer under the remarkable leadership of Anson Dorrance." Current players refer to the suit as "a betrayal" and "an attack on the program," and they wonder why Keller spent the spring of '98 training with Dorrance and the team and, just three months before filing suit, voluntarily appeared in a video extolling Dorrance's coaching methods.
"I was pretty close to her, but I'm still bitter," says Roberts, a former roommate of Keller's, who has been invited to the residency camp. "On the national team we might play together, so I'll have to put those feelings aside. But off the field it's different."
In Chapel Hill there's little doubt who is regarded as the villain. Chancellor Michael Hooker, who is a defendant in the suit along with AD Baddour, still shows up at most soccer games with his wife, Carmen. On Nov. 14, after Parlow scored a goal early in the second half of the Tar Heels' 6-0 home win over UNC Charlotte, sports information codirector Dave Lohse announced to the crowd that Parlow had passed Keller on the Tar Heels' alltime scoring list. "The place went nuts," Lohse says. "It was deafening compared to when we scored—the biggest cheer of the day."
Though most of the resentment on campus focuses on Keller, it is Jennings, still a student at Chapel Hill, who has borne the direct hostility. She has received numerous harassing phone calls that, she says, her caller I.D. revealed to be coming from university offices. Last month she reported to campus police that when she ran into former Tar Heels player Aubrey Falk outside Kenan Field House, Falk swore at her and threatened her. Falk says she only snapped at Jennings and told her to "beat it."
Mia Hamm, the biggest star in the women's game, worked this fall as Dorrance's volunteer assistant. During Hamm's freshman year at Chapel Hill, in 1989, Dorrance was her legal guardian because her parents were living overseas. She calls him a man of "integrity" and says she believes he is innocent of the plaintiffs' charges. But, say Keller and Jennings, how could Hamm know what happened between Dorrance and Keller while they were alone?
"I don't know the truth," says Jerry Smith, coach of No. 2-ranked Santa Clara. "But the thing I come back to is, Why would Debbie Keller go through this if it's not true? If it is true, maybe it can't be proven. She has everything to lose and nothing to gain."
So far, Dorrance's program seems unscathed. As usual, the Tar Heels have received oral commitments from the cream of the nation's high school talent, including top prospect Susan Bush of Houston. Players still hug Dorrance. He still jokes about unshaved legs and the fact that his players are dating "dirtbag" lacrosse players. But the lawsuit has taken a personal toll. Dorrance's mother, Peggy, has developed an ulcer from worry. His 19-year-old daughter, Michelle, has received harassing and even threatening phone calls, and his other children, Natalie, 16, and Donovan, 7, have felt the tension at home. "The greatest crisis of my life," Anson says.