SEC Football: Grading the Failed Drug Polices of Each SEC Football Program

Dr. SECAnalyst IIMay 28, 2011

SEC Football: Grading the Failed Drug Polices of Each SEC Football Program

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd up during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

     

    Aolnews.com recently released a study on school drug policies in college football. In the study, by AOL's FanHouse, they investigated the drug policies of all 68 automatic-qualifying BCS programs.

     

    The results, much like oversigning, was yet another black eye to the SEC. It once again showed that too many colleges, coaches and administrations place a higher value on football than they do the overall character and development of the student athlete.

     

    In this article, I will reveal the findings of the AOL FanHouse report, and I will also grade each college's policies in regards to drugs and the student athlete. It should be noted that these polices are in regards to street and/or recreational drugs. Matters of performance-enhancement drugs are handled directly by the NCAA.

     

    I also want to challenge you to read this article as a concerned citizen and not as a fan. The fan in us wants our college to win by any-means-necessary. However, we must keep in mind that these programs are helping develop these 18-22-year-old boys into the men that they will be.

Making the Grade: The Georgia Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    The University of Georgia have been consistently criticized for their football players having run-ins with the law over the past few years. However, for the most part, those offenses have been mistakes that are typical of college students such as underage drinking, driving with a suspended license and failure to appear on traffic violations. However, those who follow the Bulldogs program know that Coach Mark Richt deals harshly with any type of violations.

     

    The same is true of the University and their dealings with student athletes in regards to failed drug test. Of the 12 SEC schools, UGA and Kentucky are the only two programs that require a mandatory suspension for the first failed drug test by the student athlete.

    Both the University of Georgia and the University of Kentucky implement the following standard, which is among the nations strictest.

     

    Current Policies:

    First failed test- 10 percent of games (one game)

    Second failed test- 50 percent of games (six games)

    Third failed test- dismissal.

     

    Grade: A+

Almost There: Auburn University

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 06:  Coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers watches play against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    In March, word broke that four Auburn players had been arrested for armed robbery. Not many hours later head coach Gene Chizik released the four players from the scholarship. Despite the recent negative attention, the Auburn Tigers have the third-most strict drug policy of all SEC teams.

     

    The one negative mark in Auburn's drug policy is that they do not have any punishment for first time offenders. However, after that, it follows the same policies as the University of Georgia and the University of Kentucky.

    Current Policy

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 50 percent of games (six games)

    Third failed test- dismissal.

     

    Grade: B+

Needs Improvement: South Carolina Gamecocks

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Florida State Seminoles during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There are less strict drug policies in the SEC than those of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Their policies, as a whole, are more difficult than the average SEC school. However, South Carolina has gone back in fourth on the severity of their punishments.

    For example, prior to the 2005-2006 season, student athletes were expelled after their second offense. However, at the start of the 2005 school year, they changed it to four. In 2010 ,they changed their policy once again. This time making the third failed drug test the mandatory number for a player to be expelled from the team and University.

    Current Policy:

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 25 percent of games (three games)

    Third failed test- dismissal.

     

    Grade: C

Not Horrific but Self-Serving: The University of Tennessee

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    COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Im
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The University of Tennessee has one of the more puzzling drug policies in the SEC. Like Georgia, Kentucky and Auburn, they expel their student-athletes after a third failed drug test. However, the reason their grade is lower than the other three is because of their leniency on the first two failed test.

    For the first failed test, like Auburn, their players are not suspended any games. On the second failed drug test, their players are only suspended one game. Then, as mentioned above, their players are expelled on the third violation.

     

    In my opinion, this policy is self-serving. If you fail three drug tests they do not want you at their school any longer. However, as long as you're at their school, they want you playing football. Jumping from a one-game suspension to an expulsion screams of a program who wants to win first and develop men second but doesn't want to appear that way.

     

    Current Policy:

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 10 percent of games (one game)

    Third failed test- dismissal.

     

    Grade: C-

A Long Way to Go: Mississippi State

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Head Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Mississippi State comes in at the top half of the drug policy rankings but not by much. To be expelled from Starksville, a student-athlete has to fail four drug tests. They should be commended for their stance on the second offense, which is six games, but they add in another one-year suspension as the third offense instead of expulsion.

     

    In other words, the Bulldogs policy is bad, but it is not as bad as the other half of the SEC.

     

    Current Policy:

     

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 50 percent of games (six games)

    Third failed test- One year

    Fourth failed test- Dismissal

     

    Grade: D+

A Complete Embarrassment- Alabama and LSU

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 08:  Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide is congratulated by head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers after the Tide defeated the Tigers 27-21 in overtime on November 11, 2008 at Tiger Stadium
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    As it turns out, LSU and Alabama have more in common than just Nick Saban. Both schools have horrific drug policies as well. The Tide and the Bayou Bengals have identical failed drug test policies.

    The first time you fail a drug test at one of these schools, you do not receive a suspension. If you didn't learn your lesson the first time and fail another test, you get a minor slap on the wrist in the form of a one-game suspension. Like Mississippi State, it will take you failing four tests to find yourself exiled from Tuscaloosa (AL) or Baton Rouge (LA).

     

    Alabama and LSU have had great success on the field. However, their policies against drugs are reprehensible. Both Universities should be ashamed of their drug policies and should put things into action immediately to change them.

     

    For years, Alabama has been considered by outsiders as a school who will bend or break the rules to achieve success on the football field. Despite numerous infractions over the years, I believe that Alabama, under Saban, has righted many of these wrongs. However, if they want to show the nation that they are serious about discipline and developing boys into men then this policy needs to be changed.


    Current Policies:

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 15 percent of games (one game)

    Third failed test- One year

    Fourth failed test- Dismissal

     

    Grade: D-

Would Rather Not Be Bothered- Ole Miss

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Houston Nutt of the Ole Miss Rebels against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Other schools have proven, with their drug policies, that everything is secondary to winning, Ole Miss, on the other hand, have proven that they would rather not to bothered at all. Like all but two schools, UGA and Kentucky, Ole Miss does not suspend their players for their first failed drug test.

     

    In perhaps the most embarrassing part of any drug policy in the NCAA, not only does Ole Miss not suspend players for a second failed drug test, they justify it by no longer giving the student-athlete complementary game tickets for family and friends. Their atrocious polices don't get much tougher on the third violation. A third failed drug test only requires a player to miss three games.

     

    Current Policies:

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- None

    Third failed test- 25 percent of games (three games)

    Fourth failed test- Dismissal

     

    Grade: F

Atrocious Beyond Words: Florida Gators

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9:  Coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators directs play during the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    Beating out the policies of the Ole Miss Rebels is a tough task. However, Florida might have done just that. Even the most horrific SEC drug policies remove the student athlete from the university after four failed drug tests. Not the Gators. They only require the player to miss six games.

     

    Florida's current policies allow for an astonishing five failed drug tests before the student-athlete is no longer allowed to be a student at the University. It is quite possible that Charlie Sheen has tougher stand on drug policies than the University of Florida.

     

    I do credit new coach Will Muschamp for kicking star safety Janoris Jenkins off for having his second drug arrest in three months. However, he could avoid issues like this in the future if the University didn't foster this type of environment with their pathetic policies.

    Current Policies:

    First failed test- None

    Second failed test- 10 percent of games

    Third failed test- 20 percent of games

    Fourth failed test- 50 percent of games

    Fifth failed test- dismissal

     

    Grade: F

Final Take

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    There are so many directions I could go with my final take. I could mention how this gives certain programs a competitive advantage because of their leniency and ability to allow players to remain at the university although they would have been removed at rival schools.

     

    However, it is not always about wins and losses and x's and o's. These coaches and universities are supposed to be training grounds for young people. Colleges are supposed to be the place where children leave the nest to become adults. However, at these schools, they are supposed to be held accountable for their actions.

     

    Regardless of your stance on drugs, they are illegal for citizens and forbidden for student athletes. However, many of these schools continue to turn a blind eye to these offenses. Remember, these are probably not the only times these student-athletes committed these violations but instead the only times they got caught.

     

    In my opinion, UGA and Kentucky have  the perfect policy. If a player makes a mistake, they are punished. If they do it again, they are punished more harshly. If they continue to break the rules, they are expelled from the University. I don't think one mistake or even two should mean that the athlete loses his scholarship, but there has to be a line drawn in the sand.