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All SEC Drug Policies Aren’t Created Equal

From Georgia’s hard-as-nails plan to Florida’s five-strikes-and-you’re-out program, all SEC drug policies are not created equal.  But should they be?

In order to compare the drug policies of all the major athletic powers in the country, FanHouse.com made public records requests of all the BCS conference schools.  Seven private institutions — Vanderbilt included — chose not to share details of their drug policies with the website.

Below are the details provided by the 11 public universities in the SEC.  For each school you’ll see the penalty for each failed drug test for a student-athlete.  Note that just about all of the SEC schools require counseling sessions and/or drug classes for first-time offenders.


School
1st Strike
2nd Strike
3rd Strike
4th Strike
5th Strike
Alabama
None
15% of games
One year
Dismissal

Arkansas
None
10% of games
50% of games
Dismissal

Auburn
None
50% of games
Dismissal


Florida
None
10% of games
20% of games
50% of games
Dismissal
Georgia
10% of games
50% of games
Dismissal


Kentucky
10% of games
50% of games
Dismissal


LSU
None
15% of games
One Year


Ole Miss
None
None
Three games


Miss. State
None
50% of games
One Year
Dismissal

S. Carolina
None
25% of games
Dismissal


Tennessee
None
10% of games
Dismissal




When it comes to drug policies, keep in mind that some league schools have — in past years — not counted the first positive test against a student-athlete.  That first random “FAIL” simply puts the athlete in full-scale testing mode.  Meaning a “three strikes program” might actually require four positive tests to reach the dismissal stage.

Also, some schools have taken a different view of different types of failed tests.  At Tennessee, for example, failed tests for marijuana and failed tests for cocaine have been handled differently, in years past.

And remember that the schools themselves are administering these tests.  At the end of the day, we’re still having to trust in an institution’s “honor code” when it comes to who has tested positive for drugs and how many times they’ve tested positive.

With all that in mind, how should SEC schools feel about their drug policies?  Here’s our take:


Heads Held High

Georgia and Kentucky – The folks in Athens and Lexington get right to the point.  One strike: you go to counseling AND you miss 10% of your team’s games.  Two strikes: you miss half a season.  Three strikes: you’re done.  Simple, clear and heartlessly efficient.  These are the only two SEC schools to hand down suspensions over a first positive test.  And student-athletes receive a very clear message from Day One — do drugs and you’re days are numbered.  UGA and UK fans should be proud of their school’s stance.


Chests Out A Bit

Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee — Including Georgia and Kentucky, we’ve now listed all five of the SEC’s three-strikes policies.  Everyone else is more lenient when it comes to drug use.  In this group, Auburn deserves credit for handing down a half-season suspension for just a second failed test.  Carolina holds its players out for a quarter of a season with a second positive test.  Tennessee athletes who fail two tests miss just 10% of a season’s action.  But, again, all three of these schools dismiss players after a third failed test.  Nothing to sneeze at there.


Heads Down

Mississippi State, Alabama and Arkansas — These are the four-strikes-before-dismissal schools.  Of them, MSU has the harshest plan.  Bulldog players who fail a second test miss 50% of their team’s games.  A third strike merits a full season’s suspension.  At Alabama, a second strike is worth only 15% of a season, but the Tide — like State — does hand down season-long suspensions for a third failed test.  Arkansas is a bit more lenient.  Razorback athletes can fail three tests and still miss only 50% of their team’s games.  That’s not exactly Charles Bronson-style justice, but at least they dismiss after a fourth failed test.


Heads In The Sand (The next three schools all deserve special recognition for their pathetically weak drug policies.  We work our way down from who should be ashamed to who should be most ashamed.)

LSU — One strike: counseling.  Two strikes: 15% of a season.  Three strikes: one-year suspension.  Four strikes?  Uh, start all over again, maybe?  LSU does not have an automatic dismissal built in to its drug policy.  According to the information turned over to FanHouse.com, LSU athletes do not have to live to a true X-strikes-and-you’re-out code.  Just in case someone “accidentally” breathes in second-hand weed at a concert… four times.  Pretty weak.

Ole Miss — As feeble as LSU’s plan is, at least Tiger players receive some form of suspension after a second failed drug test.  At Ole Miss — according to FanHouse — a player failing a second test loses “certain privileges such as complimentary player or family game tickets.”  Wow.  That’s a real deterrent.  Worse, a third positive test results in only a three-game suspension.  Not a dismissal or half-a-season suspension, but three games off the field.  Worse still, there is no automatic dismissal stage.  You can’t get much more lenient than that…

Florida – Yet UF managed to.  The Gators literally have a five-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.  A failed test sends a Florida athlete to counseling.  A second failed test costs a player 10% of his season.  A third test equals 20%.  A fourth test equals 50%.  Only a fifth failed drug test results in an automatic dismissal.  Such a laughably weak drug policy could be the reason the words “marijuana” and “Gators” appear so often beside one another.  In April, five NFL sources claimed that former UF tight end Aaron Hernandez had failed “multiple” drug tests while on Urban Meyer’s team.  Soon after, former Gator Wondy Pierre-Louis estimated that a robust 75% of his 2006 national championship-winning teammates toked up while on UF’s team.  The drug policy in Gainesville sends a clear message to Florida’s student-athletes: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.  And that’s probably not the message UF needs to be sending.


The SEC is an organization made up of 12 separate but equal universities.  In true Southern fashion, each wants to retain its own rights when it comes to drug testing and drug policies.

But there’s no question a universal drug policy — managed and enforced by the SEC — would create a more level playing field and send a message to the nation that Mike Slive’s league takes off-field issues seriously.  Like it or not, the SEC still has something of a renegade reputation (thanks in part to Cecil Newton, Bruce Pearl and John Calipari’s notoriety).  Creating a one-size-fits-all drug policy would be good for the league’s image.

That said, it’s unlikely to happen.  The SEC office has enough to worry about without trying to handle drug testing for 12 different member institutions.  A universal drug policy would likely require too much time, effort and manpower from the folks in Birmingham.  And the commissioner probably doesn’t want to spend his day studying someone’s urinalysis results.

That does not mean, however, that Slive can’t lean on the SEC’s presidents to try and equalize their own policies.  A one-hour discussion at this spring’s SEC meetings should suffice.  Looking at these policies, it shouldn’t take too much work from the Georgia and Kentucky contingents to shame their colleagues at LSU, Ole Miss and Florida into stiffening — at least a tad — their school’s drug policies.

 


8 comments
jauk11
jauk11

LOL at UT being near the top of any list for player discipline, how did their five star never get caught by  the NCAA when he had to miss a semester of school for "personal problems" and spent most of another semester after he came back trying to get over it.  And that was after the film ("lost" in the barroom brawl---or kick them in the head when they are down party) showed he was the lookout in the robbery.  Then for Dooley, the University, and the state to let the eight thugs escape ANY penalties when they should be in jail for attempted murder shows you what UT is all about---but I hope Dooley mismanages their elite talent for a couple more years, masterful defense against UK's converted WR that completed four passes and averaged 2.1 yards per pass.  LOL again.

hullo
hullo

One strike or five strikes, NONE of these schools enforce their drug policies as written.   They all send these kids to counselors after failed tests but don't bother suspending them until there are multiple violations.  I know this because my wife was one of those counselors.

Guest
Guest

The problem is which schools actually test their star athletes. You don't really have to worry about being suspended any games if you never get tested.

tim
tim

Pot makes my migraines alot worse, so i wait till my headache is gone THEN smoke it

g8rs
g8rs

Percy Harvin definitely shouldve lost all that draft stock for failing pot at the combine...i mean his migraines are so bad that it doesnt just sideline him...it makes him lock himself into a black cave with no light, and pot is his only relief. Im sure that same pot was probably going to make him grab a gun and murder a gas station clerk, because pot does that to people...its so bad. Such a violent drug. That percy harvin has real character issues because he tries to relieve his headaches that split his head in two with pot. I wouldnt blame the guy if he was using actual pain killers illegally to suppress those, but yeah that pot is bad news.

John
John

Dick1000...

I believe I wrote "John Calipari's notoriety." Now, if you would like to suggest that he has a good reputation, you're more than welcome to do so. But we think it's pretty clear he does not. However, we wrote nothing of violations. We went out of our way to use the word "notoriety." In fact, this site has on numerous occasions pointed out that while Calipari's programs have been penalized, he himself has never been sanctioned for anything.

Thanks for reading... and now please grow up.
John

Dick1000
Dick1000

Can I see a NCAA webpage explaining what Coach Cal has been convicted of?

Enlightened32
Enlightened32

You have no idea what you are talking about. Mark Richt has handed down a 4 game suspension for Bacarri Rambo because of a failed drug test this offseason. This is Rambo's first failed drug test. So maybe some schools dont, but UGA does.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] another area where the SEC can take a stand and earn some attaboys from the national press.  As detailed in this piece, SEC schools currently set and enforce their own drug policies.  At schools like Kentucky and [...]

  2. [...] surprisingly, the University of Florida also happens to have the SEC’s most laughable drug policy featuring a five-strikes-and-you’re-out stance.  Most thinking people would probably draw a [...]

  3. [...] to suspend him i grnt it wont be for the Alabama game. There is no mand. susp. for 1st offence. http://www.mrsec.com/2010/12/sec-dru…created-equal/ [...]

  4. [...] Quote: TSdude said…. From what I understand that at LSU you are counseled after the first failed drug test, suspended 15% of the remaining games for the second and suspended for the season for the third. So, if this is true, then it would mean this is the second offense. no, because that is the mandatory minimum punishment as set by LSU's Athletic Dept. Miles can always give them a stricter punishment. So, for example this might be their first failed drug test, and Les decided to make an example of them by suspending them for one game (on top of having to get the mandatory counseling) but yeah, that drug policy of LSU does seem to be right: Alabama | MrSEC.com [...]

  5. [...] rules protecting the privacy of players.According to an AOL Fanhouse investigation last December, LSU’s drug policy is in the lower end of the SEC pack in terms of stiffness.A first failed drug test brings no action.  A second strike calls for a suspension of 15% of the [...]

  6. [...] was suspended for the first three games of the season for an NCAA rules violation.In addition, LSU has one of the softer drug policies in the SEC.  In fact, officially there is no final strike that would result in a player’s [...]

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  10. [...] Nick Saban has said the media is often too cynical.  The Syracuse situation is why the media is often cynical.  Another reason for pessimism right here in the ol’ SEC?  There’s no uniform drug policy in existence. [...]

  11. [...] the reported Bacarri Rambo drug situation: a 2010 study shows Georgia’s drug policy is among the most strict in the SEC (go ahead, insert your “define strict” joke here). Permalink 0 Comments Latest [...]

  12. [...] as it is to expect Nick Saban or Will Muschamp – Florida’s drug policy rules are a complete joke – to agree for their schools to move much in Adams’ [...]

  13. [...] We’ve been calling for years for a uniform drug policy in the SEC and this situation only makes the need for one more obvious.  (The presidents of the SEC’s schools have been against such a plan in the past, according to commissioner Mike Slive.)  But rather than go off a tangent, we’ll just keep the focus on Mathieu. [...]

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