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Breaking Down The SEC’s Drug Policies

Following the arrest and one-game suspension of three Missouri football players for suspected possession of marijuana last night, we’ve gotten a comment and a couple of emails asking just how the drug policies in Columbia, Missouri and College Station, Texas stack up with the rest of the policies in the SEC.

In an effort to keep this short, we’ll look only at the “suspensions” that come with failed drug tests rather than things like “must enter a rehab program,” “must submit to more frequent testing,” etc.

Also, please keep in mind that schools change their policies from time to time and some of these penalties may have been tweaked in recent weeks or months.  This is a ballpark guide, not a definitive listing.


  School   Strike One   Strike Two   Strike Three   Strike Four
  Alabama   No Suspension   15% of Season   One Year   Dismissal
  Arkansas   No Suspension   10% of Season   50% of Season   Dismissal
  Auburn   No Suspension   50% of Season   Dismissal
  Florida   No Supension   10% of Season   20% of Season   Dismissal
  Georgia   10% of Season   50% of Season   Dismissal
  Kentucky   10% of Season   50% of Season   Dismissal
  LSU   No Suspension   “up to” 15% of Season   Dismissal (One Year)
  Miss. State   No Suspension   50% of Season   One Year   Dismissal
  Missouri   No Suspension   “Seven Days”   Dismissal
  Ole Miss   No Suspension   “up to” 25% of Season   Dismissal
  S. Carolina   No Suspension   25% of Season   Dismissal
  Tennessee   No Suspension   10% of Season   Dismissal
  Texas A&M   No Suspension   “Possible Suspension”   “Possible Dismissal”
  Vanderbilt   Not Revealed   Not Revealed   Not Revealed


Now, even within those policies, there are some caveats, exceptions and differences.  For example:


*  Not all schools use the same company to do testing, so testing methods and timetables can differ.  Some schools test more often than others.

*  With the growing popularity of marijuana, some schools have created two different drug policies.  At those schools, testing positive for marijuana would not result in as serious a punishment as, let’s say, testing positive for cocaine use.

*  In most cases where the suspension results in a percentage of a “season” being missed, that penalty will be prorated over the number of games remaining in the season.  In other words, a second positive drug text in August might result in a six-game suspension, but a second positive drug test in November might result in only a two-game suspension.

*  Not all SEC schools are clear about what “dismissal” actually means.  Some policies state that a player must be permanently dismissed.  Others — like LSU — appear to leave the door open for a dismissed player to return after a year away from his or her athletic program.

*  Some schools — like Tennessee — do not count a second positive test, for example, against a student who has just tested positive and entered the school’s counseling program.  The thinking being that the same incident might cause two or more positive tests.

*  At Missouri, a second positive test results in a seven-day suspension, but MU spokespeople have said that most Tiger coaches suspend a player for at least a game.  Therefore, getting caught during an open date in football might not be a saving grace.

*  Ole Miss just strengthened its policy this year.  Previously, a Rebel athlete could test positive for drugs twice before facing a suspension of any kind (on Strike Three).

*  Vanderbilt is a private school and does not have to reveal its policies to the media.


From the looks of it, Georgia and Kentucky remain the SEC’s toughest programs when it comes to punishing drug offenders.  But, again, we don’t know how often those schools test their athletes.

Texas A&M — with its vague, ambiguously-worded policy — appears to be leave the most wiggle room for coaches and athletes in terms of suspensions.




Now we see first hand how Meyer Cup came into existence. Go recruit some thugs that could play football and if they don't get caught but 2 or 3 times they are good to go. The SEC should adopt a uniform policy with uniform methods of testing. Get out in front of this before being forced to.


Awesome, thanks for the follow up.


The problem I see with all the drug policies is that they are left up to the schools. There needs to be a policy at least at the SEC level, and better yet at the NCAA level. I suspect a lot of the wiggle room built into these policies is because coaches/AD are concerned that the competition is playing by a different set of rules.


So why did the Mizzou kids get suspended a game for their first offense??  Maybe because they actually got arrested as opposed to just failing a drug test?? 


Not sure what this all proves, means or how to interpret it. I have work in a system with some pretty severe, very well spelled out drug policies. Drug testing's random and very well done. The BUT is in the wiggle room supervisors need to evaluate the negative impact of rigid enforcement on the team, the system and the individual. (don't get me wrong, if crack is detected, you are gone, now). Since the penalties were stiff for all drug use, supervisors and leaders had to find a way to mitigate the impact of a "oh crap, what a stupid thing I did at a party last night," would have on a really good person who just got stupid.


Over tiime, we learned how to give the supervisor enough room to make an informed decision on what to do, based on observations over time. Just sticking these published penalties up does not really tell me what the system is going to do when faced with a judgement call. I like giving leaders the option of dealing with their people (I liked the head nod to the prevalence of marijuana in our younger social circles, aka same peer group as the players as pointing to supervisors attempting to adjust to a new dynamic).


So, kudo's to those schools who have a two tiered system, as that seems to recognize there is a difference in the scope of the human experience. I suspect, if you looked at A&M's policy, instead of seeing lots of vagaries (at least I hope so), they might have in place a system that is attempting to address a very complex issue. Have no idea, maybe I'm just an optimist. It is strange to me that my alma mater (UF) has a dismissal after the 4th strike, and still ended up under Myers with a ton of off field problems dealing with booze. I believe institutions have personalities, and that one always registered with me, as UF is a pereneal top 10 party school.


 @Speedy98 Not harping, but that "nanny state" approach has a whole set of issues and unintended consequences. The consequences to quality in education, for example, of the top down "no child left behind" laws, which have not increased the quality of education by the imposition of rigid standards that in the end put so much of an administrative burden in the work place that the time actually spent on education decreases. Not trying to compare teaching to drug use, the point being the SEC and the NCAA are not experienced police or drug rehab organizations (and no the US Dept or Ed is not stacked with people who are experienced educators). Be careful of what you ask, because once you instill a bureaucracy with power, it just grows that power......

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Yes, it was likely the arrest that brought the suspension.  But that led some to ask about drug policies, so we simply answered their questions.  Also, it's possible this was a second drug-related infraction.  Fans and media rarely hear about a first offense.


Also, coaches can obviously suspend players any amount of time anytime they like for anything they like.  The list above should be viewed as bare minimums, not maximums.


Thanks for reading the site,


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



It wasn't really meant to "prove" anything.  A few people asked about the drug policies at Missouri and Texas A&M and how they stack up in the SEC.  I just provided the list as a result of those questions.  Then I pointed out that there are still a lot of exceptions and differences between the policies listed.


Just trying to follow-up a couple of requests.


Many thanks for reading,



 @John at MrSEC  @bpa_kc Mizzou also suspended 2 other players who were in the car but did not actually get arrested as they were not in actual possession of any weed when the police arrived. I am afraid your suspicions that this was not the first offense may be correct.


 @John at MrSEC And after my second pot of coffee this morning, I re-read my post. I can see how my use of "you" and "prove" did not convey what I meant. I did not mean John Pennington can't prove anything with this, I meant "you" as in the general public reading this might not be able to discern (prove) who had the most effective drug program. I appreciate the data points (which is what this article is) and will try not to sound like John Pennington has to prove anything to me. My bad.


 @John at MrSEC John, I'm sorry I gave you that impression (or anyone else). I was commenting on the fact that I (me, myself and I) do not know how to evaluate what each school does, not that you posted what you had. I vacilate between agreeing with strict enforcement (which some offenders really deserve) and my observations in the work place on how in today's culture, its hard not to sympathize with those who go off the path. It is a struggle to maintain the integrity of any workplace (in this case a team) and balance competitiveness (the integrity of the sport) with the complexity of human intentions.


Thanks for pointing out that I did not make that clear.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



No worries, I didn't take it as an insult.  Just wanted you to know the rationale behind posting the list.  Some readers asked, I tried to give them what they'd asked for.


All the best,



  1. [...] In an effort to keep this short, we'll look only at the “suspensions” that come with failed drug tests rather than things like “must enter a rehab program,” “must submit to more frequent testing,” etc. Also, please keep in mind that schools change … Read more on MrSEC [...]

  2. [...] … Missouri and College Station, Texas stack up with the rest of the policies in the SEC. In an effort to keep this short, we'll look only at the “suspensions” that come with failed drug tests rather than things like “must enter a rehab program … Read more on MrSEC [...]

  3. [...] for the SEC to adopt a uniform drug policy since 2010.  The league’s 14 schools currently have different policies ranging from very strict to ridiculously lenient and — at some point — those differences provide a competitive advantage for schools that [...]

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  9. […] But wait…is it really that horrible?  Didn’t Colorado and Washington officially legalize it?  Didn’t those two states have teams that played in the Super Bowl?   Isn’t the NFL seriously considering allowing it for “Medicinal Purposes”?  So … how bad is it?  How many other SEC schools suspend on the first offense?  Oh who’s that you say? Kentucky?  Well that is certainly a football program we would like to emulate.   As for their Basketball team, well the players are only there for a year so I guess they don’t hafta sweat it too much.  And who doesn’t fully dismiss after the third strike?  Alabama, Florida, LSU, Arkansas, and Miss St, that’s who.   Six of the last eight National Championships are in that group.  Meanwhile some those schools and plenty others also have actually separated Marijuana from their punishable drug testing. […]

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