HARTFORD, Conn. — A former Wesleyan University football player has been sentenced to six months of home confinement on federal charges that he supplied recreational hallucinogenic drugs to his teammates.
Ryan Welch, of Salem, Massachusetts, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Bridgeport. He must also serve three years of probation and perform 200 hours of community service.
The 22-year-old Welch pleaded guilty in March to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance.
Welch played defensive back for Wesleyan, a Division III program.
He was going into his junior season a year ago when he began dealing a hallucinogenic concoction that became known as “Welchie’s Special,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It included the psychedelic drugs known as 2C-B and 2C-E, which authorities say he acquired over the internet.
He first provided the drug in a liquid form, which was often mixed into a sports drink. He later sold the drug in powders and capsules, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said he provided the drug to about 20 freshmen, sophomores and juniors on both the offense and the defense. The first dose was free and players paid $10 for subsequent doses, prosecutors said.
“Some of these distributions occurred off-campus, when the football team traveled to away games, and other of these distributions occurred on campus, including in the locker room used by the football team,” according to the prosecutor’s pre-sentencing report.
None of the coaches knew about Welch’s operation, according to prosecutors.
Welch’s lawyers said he did not sell the drugs to make a profit, but wrote in their pre-sentencing report that he “naively (with knowledge that they were illegal) obtained the substances to use for himself and share with his friends.”
The federal investigation began last October, when emergency crews treated a tennis player inside a dormitory who went into convulsions and had to be hospitalized after taking the drugs.
Welch could have faced up to a year in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which had recommended a year of home confinement.
The school confirmed Tuesday that Welch has been expelled. But spokesman Bill Holder declined to say whether players who purchased the drugs face any discipline from Wesleyan or the football program.