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McMurphy's Law: Inconsistency epitomizes drug policies

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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Spencer Ware was one of three Tigers suspended for testing positive. (US Presswire)  
Spencer Ware was one of three Tigers suspended for testing positive. (US Presswire)  

Substance abuse policies for college football programs are like the uniforms each team wears: They all vary to some degree and no two are exactly alike.

A study of the nation's substance abuse policies at the automatic qualifying BCS conference schools indicates how the schools' different philosophies in dealing with and suspending multiple-time drug users.

Six schools -- Auburn, Duke, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State and North Carolina -- suspend a football student-athlete for six games after a second positive test, while four schools -- Clemson, Ole Miss, Purdue and UCLA -- don't suspend a student-athlete until a third-positive test.

As much as those policies vary, at least, they specify the punishments.

The length of suspension for a student-athlete with multiple positive tests at LSU, Louisville, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia are determined by the head coach and/or athletic director.

The substance abuse policies at Florida State, LSU, Oregon, Oregon State and Texas A&M also are subjective -- and in some instances just flat out vague -- in defining the penalties for student-athletes that have multiple positive drug tests.

With no definitive length of suspension determined, the coaches and/or athletic directors leave open the very real impression that their decisions could be influenced by that week's opponent.

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For instance, LSU's policy indicates a second positive test results in "up to 15 percent" suspension of games. Based on LSU's policies a multiple drug user could either be not suspended or suspended for one or two games.

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, Tharold Simon and Spencer Ware were suspended one game for "testing positive for synthetic marijuana," the Times-Picayune reported.

LSU chancellor Michael Martin told USA Today the players' reinstatement would be determined by athletic director Joe Alleva.

"The athletic director will ultimately make the decision [and] he'll consult with me," Martin told USA Today. "Fortunately for them and the team, they have two weeks to get their act together because we have a bye week. They have been directed to some counseling, and they will now be subject to greater scrutiny for the remainder of their time at LSU."

After missing one game, LSU's players were reinstated and will play Saturday against No. 2-ranked Alabama in a game with huge national title implications.

Other schools, however, have opted for stricter substance abuse policies.

In the past year, Florida not only strengthened its substance abuse policy, but it now has different punishments for student-athletes that test positive for different drugs. Previously, it took five positive tests for a recreational drug for a student-athlete to be dismissed from Florida. That policy was changed to dismissal after a fourth positive test for marijuana or synthetic marijuana.

However, a student-athlete who tests positive for any recreational drug (other than marijuana) is suspended for six games (50 percent of regular-season contests) after a first positive and is dismissed after a second positive.

The NCAA does not conduct tests for recreational drugs (such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy) but only for performance-enhancing drugs/steroids. The penalties are the same for each NCAA member institution: a first positive test for steroids is a one-year suspension; a second positive test ends a student-athlete's NCAA eligibility for rest of his career.

DRUG POLICY SUSPENSION LENGHTS

The minimum required number of games a student-athlete is suspended for each of the 68 automatic-qualifying BCS conference football programs, using next year's conference affiliations, based on a (1) first-positive test for recreational drugs; (2) second-positive test; (3) third-positive test; (4) fourth-positive test and (5) fifth-positive test. Drug policies are obtained through public records requests or from the school's official website.

ACC

Boston College: (1) none; (2) two weeks; (3) one year.

Clemson: (1) none; (2) none; (3) dismissal. Note: Clemson policy indicates athlete must perform 15-30 hours of community service for a first positive and a minimum of 30 hours for a second positive.

Duke: (1) none; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Florida State: (1) none; (2) unspecified suspension; (3) dismissal. Note: length of suspension for second positive determined by the school's substance abuse committee and "influenced by the length of the season."

Georgia Tech: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Maryland: (1) none; (2) two weeks; (3) one year.

Miami: (1) one game; (2) two games; (3) dismissal.

North Carolina: (1) none; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

N.C. State: (1) none; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Virginia: (1) none; (2) suspension determined by head coach; (3) indefinite suspension.

Virginia Tech: (1) 10 percent of games; (2) 33 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Big East

Cincinnati: (1) 10 percent of games; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) dismissal

UConn: (1) none; (2) 30-to-60 days; (3) one year; (4) dismissal

Louisville: (1) none; (2) suspension, (3) suspension, (4) one year. Note: length of suspension for second positive determined by coach or athletic director; third suspension must be longer than second suspension.

Pittsburgh: Although a public university, Pittsburgh is not required to respond to public record requests and refused to provide policy.

Rutgers: (1) none: (2) two weeks; (3) one year; (4) dismissal. Note: athlete with a first positive may be suspended up to two weeks at athletic director's discretion.

South Florida: (1) none; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

West Virginia: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of season; (3) dismissal. Note: athlete with a first positive is suspended an indefinite amount of times until they produce a negative test result.

Big Ten

Illinois: (1) none; (2) 1/12th of regular-season games; (3) 1/4th of regular season games; (4) one year.

Indiana: (1) none; (2) one game; (3) dismissal.

Iowa: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Michigan: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) one year.

Michigan State: (1) none; (2) 30 days; (3) one year.

Minnesota: (1) none; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) one year.

Nebraska: (1) none; (2) suspension determined by head coach; (3) dismissal.

Ohio State: (1) none; (2) two weeks; (3) one year.

Penn State: (1) none; (2) seven days; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Purdue: (1) none; (2) none; (3) 10 percent of games; (4) "may be dismissed" with athletic director making decision.

Wisconsin: (1) none; (2) 30 days; (3) dismissal.

Big 12

Baylor: (1) one game; (2) 10 percent of games plus one game; (3) dismissal.

Iowa State: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games: (3) dismissal.

Kansas: (1) none; (2) whichever is less: two games or 10 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Kansas State: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Missouri: (1) none; (2) seven days; (3) dismissal.

Oklahoma: (1) none; (2) one game; (3) "expulsion from athletic program." Note: Athlete with three positives may be reinstated "upon completion of a qualified drug rehabilitation program."

Oklahoma State: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) 50 percent of games; (4) dismissal.

Texas: (1) none; (2) "if suspended, length of suspension determined by athletic director;" (3) dismissal.

TCU: (1) none; (2) "may include at least" one-year suspension; (3) dismissal.

Texas Tech: (1) none; (2) one game; (3) dismissal.

PAC-12

Arizona: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Arizona State: (1) none; (2) 25 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Cal: (1) none; (2) two weeks; (3) one year.

Colorado: (1) none; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) one year.

Oregon: (1) none; (2) length of suspension, if any, not indicated; (3) dismissal.

Oregon State: (1) none; (2) length of suspension, if any, not indicated; (3) dismissal. Note: Policy says student "may be expelled" for second positive, but doesn't indicate a specific length if suspended.

Utah: (1) none; (2) 25 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

UCLA: (1) none; (2) none; (3) one game; (4) dismissal.

Washington: (1) none; (2) 15 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Washington State: (1) none; (2) 30 days; (3) one year.

SEC

Alabama: (1) none; (2) 15 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Arkansas: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) 50 percent of games; (4) dismissal.

Auburn: (1) none; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Florida: For marijuana/synthetic marijuana: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) 20 percent of games; (4) dismissal. For all other drugs: (1) 50 percent of games; (2) dismissal.

Georgia: (1) 10 percent of games; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Kentucky: (1) 10 percent of games; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

LSU: (1) none; (2) "up to 15 percent of games;" (3) one year.

Ole Miss: (1) none; (2) none; (3) three games.

Mississippi State: (1) none; (2) 50 percent of games; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

South Carolina: (1) none; (2) 25 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Tennessee: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Texas A&M: (1) none; (2) "possible suspension;" (3) possible dismissal.

Note: Private universities not required to respond to public record requests that would not voluntarily provide drug policy: Notre Dame, Northwestern, USC, Stanford, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. However, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told CBSSports.com his school has a substance abuse policy but did not disclose the specifics.

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