Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reports today that “presidents, athletic directors and coaches of Southeastern Conference schools have discussed the possibility of the conference implementing a conference-wide substance abuse policy.” That according to Georgia AD Greg McGarity.
This is not the first time the idea of a uniform testing policy has been brought up at the SEC’s annual meetings in Destin. Commissioner Mike Slive has put a uniform policy on the agenda at least twice before only to have the league’s presidents decide that they would rather continue to implement their own policies.
At MrSEC.com, we have pushed this issue on a number of occasions. In our view, with the cash the SEC will now have rolling in, the league could mandate that all schools use the same company to conduct their tests. According to McGarity, however, the league isn’t looking to involve itself in the minutiae of drug testing policies:
“I don’t think it’s necessary to get down into the weeds as far as how many times you test, what are the measurements, what are the minimum (levels for a positive test), but we believe there should be some type of consistent penalty (for each positive test).”
In other words, league officials simply want to stick a toe in the water before deciding whether to dive in all the way. There’s an obvious problem attached to having consistent penalties without having control over any other aspects of testing — schools can test their athletes less often. Schools could also set higher minimum requirements for positive tests.
There is absolutely no reason for the schools of the SEC not to conduct the same types of tests, the same number of tests, and dole out the same penalties for positive tests.
If the SEC presidents are queasy about drug testing issues being taken out of their hands, the league should at the very least set minimums that each school must abide by. Example: The minimum number of tests is X. The minimum limit for a positive result is Y. If schools want to be tougher than the league’s mandated minimums, that would be up to the individual schools, but the minimums would be ironclad.
The goal of the league should be to get everyone on the same page. Just dealing with penalties is a nice first step, but it doesn’t go far enough if the goal is actual equality in testing.
The league could bring the issue to a presidential vote tomorrow.