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Lincoln Riley: NCAA Rule That Led to 3 Oklahoma Suspensions Is 'Archaic'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 23, 2020

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is pictured on the sidelines in front of cut-outs of fans in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri State Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Oklahoma football head coach Lincoln Riley called the NCAA's punishment on marijuana use "archaic" on Tuesday amid discussion on three Sooners reportedly testing positive for the drug last December prior to the College Football Playoff.

"It has been a challenging year for the NCAA. There's a lot on their plate right now," Riley said per Ryan Aber of the Oklahoman.

"But this is a big issue. It is. And it's a much bigger issue than these three players, and I think maybe that's part of why the process has been a little bit slower than all of us would like, but you're talking about an archaic rule within the NCAA. You're talking about a world that has really changed on the subject."

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson, defensive end Ronnie Perkins and wide receiver Trejan Bridges were reportedly suspended before the team's Dec. 29 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl at the College Football Playoff semifinals, per Aber. OU lost that game, 63-28.

Aber wrote about the suspensions the players have faced as well as OU's hopes for reduced punishments.

"The rules in place mandate a suspension of half of a season for one positive test. That suspension would carry them through the first five games of the season, in addition to the bowl game they missed.

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"While there is no mechanism to overturn the suspensions, there was hope the suspensions would be reduced slightly because two games were eliminated from this regular season."

As Aber also noted, marijuana was illegal federally and in all 50 states. Today, 11 states have decriminalized marijuana, and 33 have allowed for medical marijuana programs.

The NCAA defines marijuana as a banned substance. The organization produced a 21-slide PowerPoint presentation on marijuana directed toward student-athletes but available to the public on NCAA.com.

The slideshow largely cover the drug's mental and physical side effects (among other topics) before closing with notes on punishments for student-athletes who test positive.

"A student-athlete who tests positive for marijuana in an NCAA administered drug test will be declared ineligible for competition and withheld from the next 50 percent of contests in all sports in which the compete," the presentation reads.

The NCAA classifies marijuana as a banned substance within the "illicit drug class" and one where a medical exception waiver is unavailable.

A second positive test results in losing a full calendar year of eligibility.

The Sooners opened the 2020 season with a 48-0 win over Missouri State. They will now run through the Big 12 portion of their schedule with nine games against conference foes from Saturday (at home versus Kansa State) through Dec. 5 (home versus Baylor). The Big 12 Championship Game will occur on Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.

Based on the timeline Aber provided, the three Sooner players currently suspended would be eligible to return on Oct. 31 at Texas Tech.

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