Recently, the SEC viewed a proposal from Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity that would push to make the conferences' drug testing, and punishment, policy standard. As McGarity said, via ESPN:
"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]," McGarity said, "but we believe there should be some type of consistent penalty [for each positive test]."
Alabama coach Nick Saban, among others, did not exactly jump at the opportunity to back the idea, as reported by AL.com. And they shouldn't: In the grand scheme of things, school drug tests don't mean that much. By ignoring appeals or claiming false positives, you can make them dance any way you please.
However, for the conferences, standardizing policies makes sense. From a discipline standpoint, it is not about being strict or coming down hard to enforce rules. Rather, it's about not screwing over a player because his school elects to make an example of him.
That can also be read as not forcing a player out because his school does not value him highly enough. You know, the ambiguous team rules violation dismissal that magically hits non-starters a lot harder than it hits prime-time players.
Folks, that is not just drug testing. There are legal violations and to a certain extent, beyond the NCAA's standard eligibility requirements, academic issues as well.
Discipline is not the only avenue where taking the standard route could benefit multiple parties. Standardized media policies could also help reduce some of the issues surrounding the sport. Last year, we saw Lane Kiffin raked over the coals for his media policy and banning violators from practice.
Without standard media protocol from school to school, Kiffin was in the right to do what he did. Now, should conferences move to standardized reporting of injuries and other content, coaches will have to play by the rules. And the media would have to as well, or risk losing that access, at the conferences' discretion, not just on the whim of an angry coach.
The last area, one which many folks tend to forget because it happens behind the scenes, involves agents. Schools like North Carolina and Miami have all but put the kibosh on their players dealing with agents. This happened after the NFLPA repealed its "Junior Rule," which was restrictive in and of itself.
As we've discussed before here at Your Best 11, the NCAA pushes its "agents are bad" line of thinking, and then schools back them up by putting draconian policies in place to limit agent-athlete contact. This dynamic forces legitimate agents to jump through remarkable hoops to contact players, while people who skirt the rules continue about their business.
Someone has to step up for the kids here. Coaches understand the integral part that agents play in the process, as well as how difficult it is to find an agent whom you can trust and whom you know will go to the mattresses for you. However, schools, powered by their fear of the NCAA, push to limit healthy relationships that can help the player in his possible career.
Drugs, discipline, agents and media access are all issues that require more standardized policies on the conference level. Protect the kids who get tossed for issues that do not truly warrant their dismissal. Stop schools from scaring good agents away, in favor of under-the-table dealings. Let media types and coaches both know the score going into interactions.
In this regard, everyone playing by the same rules is not a bad thing.