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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.


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