Georgia’s problems reaffirm NCAA needs uniform drug policy

Bobby Bowden supports Georgia's drug policy but says it might leave team at a disadvantage.

Bobby Bowden supports Georgia's drug policy but says it might leave the team at a competitive disadvantage.

ATHENS – It’s fair to start with this: There is no excuse for doing something wrong.

There is no excuse for stealing money from a teammate’s dorm room, just because you’re short of cash. No excuse for getting into a physical altercation with a girlfriend, just because there was an argument. No excuse for getting high, just because … well, just because. No excuse for exploring the cannabis culinary arts and eating Alice B. Toklas brownies, just because you were on spring break and you were hungry and, really, honest, pinky-swear, you didn’t even know that there was marijuana in them (uh, right.)

These are some of the reasons why Georgia coach Mark Richt has been suspending or dismissing players at an alarming rate lately – eight since January. This is when nobody seems to remember how many stars were by a recruit’s name on national signing day. Funny how that works.

Richt has a problem. But only part of it has to do with the fact that too many of his players are doing really dumb things. The other has to do with a somewhat unlevel playing field.

Georgia has a fairly strict drug-and-alcohol policy for its student-athletes, relative to most other universities, particularly those in the SEC. UGA suspends players for at least one game (10 percent of schedule) after the first positive test. A second positive test mandates a suspension of at least 30 percent of the schedule (or four games) for a non-controlled substance or 50 percent (six games) for a controlled substance or DUI. A third positive results in dismissal.

An examination of schools in BCS conferences by AOL/Fanhouse in 2010 revealed Georgia and Kentucky were the only two SEC members that suspended players following the first positive drug test. Only six of 68 programs overall do so (Baylor, Cincinnati, Miami and Virginia Tech are the others).

Every time Mark Richt looks up, another player is getting into trouble. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Every time Mark Richt looks up, another player is getting into trouble. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

As a comparison, Florida has among the most lenient policies, with no suspension until the second positive test and no dismissal until the fifth positive.

How often and when, if at all, an athlete is tested also is up to each university. The NCAA, in fact, allows every school to set its own policy.

This is a problem. There needs to be uniformity among athletic programs’ drug-testing policy, not just within conferences but across the country. Anything short of that creates a competitive disadvantage for some.

Among those supporting the idea for uniformity is former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, Richt’s coaching mentor, who was in Athens on Friday for a high school coaches clinic.

Bowden had a reputation for being soft in the area of player discipline when he coached. But he acknowledges he would have to be tougher if he coached now, saying, “I would have to do a better job of educating the young men, trying to expose them to things where they would learn some moral issues that maybe they missed in their home.”

He supports Georgia’s policy, but doesn’t seem surprised Richt is having problems.

“One reason at Georgia [that] you hear so many boys getting out of line is because they’re so dog-gone restrictive,” he said. “I know a lot of schools — I don’t want to say something I shouldn’t say – but [they] don’t have to drug test. If you don’t want your boys to be caught with drugs, don’t drug-test them. And some schools do that. If you have a strict program, the way our society is, you’re going to have kids [test positive].”

Asked if he supported a universal policy, Bowden said: “Yes. That would be fair. There’s no doubt about it. … Georgia needs to do what’s best for Georgia. And you’ve got to soothe your conscience that you’re not letting bad things happen just because you don’t think somebody’s going to find out. But there’s an advantage if you’re a school that doesn’t test.”

In retirement, Bowden is able to laugh about some things he couldn’t before, such as when Florida State players were found to be receiving free athletic gear from a local sporting-goods store. Borrowing the line from his former thorn, Steve Spurrier, Bowden cracked, “You’ve all heard of Free Shoes University, haven’t you? I had a slogan on my desk: ‘This too shall pass.’”

That is all Richt can bank on right now. And maybe hope for a quieter summer.

By Jeff Schultz

280 comments Add your comment

Barbicide

March 30th, 2012
2:30 pm

First. The reality is that marijuana is the modern day equivalent of a six pack. Something has to give or Georgia will suffer as a result

hey sec east champ

March 30th, 2012
2:30 pm

Joey

March 30th, 2012
2:35 pm

Hey, techie. We’ll still beat tech if Richt kicks the whole 1st string off the team.

Sad, huh?

ThreeDawgKnight

March 30th, 2012
2:36 pm

Thanks Jeff for a very fair article.
I couldn`t bring myself to say “fair & balanced”.

5150 UOAD

March 30th, 2012
2:37 pm

JOEY how do you know that? UGa didn’t suspend all the players that rushed the field during the Auburn game in 2010. Half the team would have missed the TECh game, but OF COURSE UGa didn’t follow the SEC rules about rushing the field.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

March 30th, 2012
2:38 pm

It is what it is. If MJ were your only issue then most would overlook this situation. Denial is a UGA Tradition so lets all turn to page 313 and sing 1st,2nd, and 4th verse.

epi

March 30th, 2012
2:40 pm

Uga needs to chill out with the penalties and get with the times. There is nothing wrong with mary jane, and the players probably had a blast eating those brownies. But the school’s gotta be a big buzz kill..

bucket

March 30th, 2012
2:40 pm

I am as sick as anyone about what has been happening @ UGA with the drugs, but this article is right on target. Smoking marijuana is a cultural thing and if all the sanctimonious fans on these blogs would pull their heads out of their butts they would realize that it is happening at their schools, too. The reason you don’t hear about this problem at other schools is that they don’t suspend for the first offense. Heck, some of them don’t suspend for the second or third offense. Ole Miss doesn’t suspend until after 4 failed tests. Percy Harvin failed 6 tests at Florida and missed a grand total of 2 games in his career. Bowden is correct when he said some schools don’t test, therefore, no failed tests! UGA is recruiting from the same pool that everyone else recruits from and if you think your team’s players are not smoking dope because you have a certain coach or a certain disciplinarian, you are wrong.

5150 UOAD

March 30th, 2012
2:41 pm

3 + 4 + 1 = 0

March 30th, 2012
2:42 pm

The Kids have to know … they knew the requirements before coming/signing to/with UGA … they have been repeatly warned … BUT … they are hurting the entire University …

Then again, this is CMR’s policy … it is a “stand alone” policy … he himself has gone beyond the requiremnts to the point of detractions … his policy hurts UGA.

Steve

March 30th, 2012
2:43 pm

Jeff, if most SEC schools recruit the same players, why is it do you think UGA ends up with the ones who get into trouble? Why does this rarely happen at other SEC schools for the most part? Maybe they just hide it better.

SOGADOG

March 30th, 2012
2:45 pm

In the long run, the stricter drug policy employed by UGA should give the Dawgs a competitive edge since it will result in fewer drug users on the team. Players on drugs are not your best players and certainly dont do well academically.

Kudos to CMR and UGA for being strict on drug use among players. Those who claim UGA’s player misconduct issues are caused by CMR not being strict enough are flat wrong. If he were too lax on discipline, there would be no group warnings to players before spring break and no testing after spring break, and these discipline issues would never come up.

Cobb Dawg

March 30th, 2012
2:49 pm

Anyone who has ever complained that CMR and UGA are not “tough enough” on student-athlete discipline has no right to complain now. Clearly, the coaches and administration are “tough enough.” Are they too tough? That’s a matter for debate. But for those who like to poke at Richt and say he’s soft, I submit this week’s events as rebuttal.

JSS

March 30th, 2012
2:52 pm

Why do you keep asking a cartel to act against its best interest? A cartel loves chaos…

UGABugKiller

March 30th, 2012
2:56 pm

How sad that it’s National Cleavage Day and we’re talking about UGA discipline issues instead of Sofia Vergara.

http://bit.ly/zHSshu

UGABugKiller

March 30th, 2012
2:58 pm

Other schools glass houses would break forever

March 30th, 2012
2:59 pm

Kudos Jeff,
All the UGA haters are HYPOCRITES when bashing UGA, while their schools don’t come near discipline standards of UGA.
UGA’s higher standards are lauded and respected while continually improving policies. While other schools have no punishment and hide their problems in many equal scenarios.
Other schools should raise their standards before the hypocrite haters start trash with UGA.

5150 UOAD

March 30th, 2012
3:00 pm

I’m obsessed. I can’t stop myself. Sorry. Yes, I know I make myself look the tool everyone knows I am.

Da Troof

March 30th, 2012
3:03 pm

SOGADOG – really? You would be amazed at how many of the child prodigies over at Tech have daily bong rips, I assure you.

Other schools glass houses would break forever

March 30th, 2012
3:03 pm

Equal policies and equal punishment for all schools….then we’ll see the true heavy violators.

Herschel Talker

March 30th, 2012
3:03 pm

Schultzie:

Nice piece, but the title should have been “Georgia’s problems reaffirm Mark Richt should be fired.”

HT

3 + 4 + 1 = 0

March 30th, 2012
3:04 pm

We are seeing the “value” of going beyond the requirements of the system. One use to say “play by the rules” … I just wish UGA did play by the rules that everyone else does.

The “enhanced rules” are to the detriment of the University. No one “reads” or even comments about UGA toughness … the comments are instead … UGA has a drug problem.

Randall "Pink" Floyd

March 30th, 2012
3:05 pm

Dad gum, Jeff. You wrote a decent article.

Dweam Team II

March 30th, 2012
3:07 pm

No Tolerance…kick them out on the FIRST offense…problem solved

LWK

March 30th, 2012
3:08 pm

you morons that think marijuana should be okay are delusional.

My brother has been hooked on weed since he was 14. He was THE best basketball player and athlete on all his teams growing up but the drug took over. He constantly broke in and robbed from my mother’s house. He pawned everything he could take from her including all Christmas presents to buy weed. He could not hold down a job. The DSS picked up his child who he was keeping one weekend because he left the 4 year old alone while looking for drugs. Two wives left him because of it. Never has had a dime to his name. I could go on but it only gets worse.

Oh but he’s a Bulldog fan so that makes it okay.

Keep believing it is all recreational lunatics. I bet you I am not the only one who has stories of how marijuana has ruined lives. It is addictive and should not be tolerated.

Dawg Haus

March 30th, 2012
3:08 pm

Good call, Jeff! That Bobby still has it after all these years.

bucket

March 30th, 2012
3:09 pm

It is ridiculous that there is not a uniform drug policy for all the schools in the NCAA, but it is atrocious that the SEC doesn’t enact a uniform drug policy for all of it’s member schools. The fact that there isn’t one speaks volumes about who is afraid to be “exposed” by a uniform policy.

George

March 30th, 2012
3:11 pm

Good lord give it a rest. Auburn expelled one of the best players in the conference for dope. Florida has suspended multiple payers. Y’all truly are pathetic. Stop worrying and whining about other programs and start trying to get your own pathetic program under control.

Hypocrite schools and their fans couldn't survive with UGA's policies

March 30th, 2012
3:12 pm

Nice to see ole Bobby dressed in red with a UGA banner behind him addressing the press.

Hypocrite schools and their fans couldn't survive with UGA's policies

March 30th, 2012
3:17 pm

Takes 5 times for Florida…..who knows how many times for Auburn.
George would be smart to take his own advice and quit bashing UGA and worry his own pathetic program.

IT IS WHAT IT IS

March 30th, 2012
3:19 pm

Bacarri Rambo should be suspended 2 games, yes, 2 games. If anybody with power @ UGA is reading this, take note and do the right thing! Rambo was suspended last year because a girl he was with had a joint on her, but for some reason Mark Richt Suspended him. Thats incident does not follow under the suspension policy. With this Brownie Spy Gate incident, this is Rambo first offense!!!!!!!! Which if u can read would only give rambo a 10% suspension from the year!!!! As crazy as Rambo’s story is i believe him, this guy would have been a second round pick this year but wanted to come back and help UGA win and become a 2-time All American. Why would he put marijuana in his system on spring break when everybody knew that when the athletics got back they would be tested!!! If there is 1 time where an exception can be made, it would be in the case of Bacarri Rambo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LETS SUPPORT RAMBO, HE’S DYING INSIDE AND I BELIEVE HIM!!!

leave us out of your hate and your glass house won't get shattered

March 30th, 2012
3:20 pm

I love to focus on my own program……why don’t haters focus on their own programs instead of others?

Goldmember

March 30th, 2012
3:22 pm

Da Troof. You’re an idiot. Tech has better than things to do than to get high and get drunk. Apples and Oranges son. UGA is one big party and the whole worlds knows it. But keep hanging on to football because I know that’s all you rednecks care about.

George

March 30th, 2012
3:27 pm

Ha ha ha ha ha god you can’t be that dumb. I know the truth hurts.

Chuck

March 30th, 2012
3:28 pm

Goldmember knows that Tech doesn’t drug test it’s players and is ashamed.

As well he should be.

George Stein

March 30th, 2012
3:29 pm

Perhaps we can also have uniform admissions, as opposed to an NCAA minimum giving some schools the ability to recruit at the minimum while others recruit with higher standards.

Deacon Blues

March 30th, 2012
3:32 pm

With UGA’s cupcake schedule, Bacari should just voluntarily sit out until he is really needed!!

harold

March 30th, 2012
3:34 pm

RICHT AND MCGARITY CAN’T TOLERATE THIS!! WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP? THESE GUYS ARE THUGS!

Buckeye

March 30th, 2012
3:34 pm

Bad day all y’all dogs?

This is funnier than hasbrowns. Who would have thought that brownies and hasbrowns would bring such disgrace to all y’all dogs.

Academic Man

March 30th, 2012
3:35 pm

Mr. Schultz,

Competitive disadvantages are everywhere in college football because those schools choose to be at one.

If every school adopts the same drug policy (say the highest one) then shouldn’t every school adopt the same admission standards as Vanderbilt so no competitive disadvantage is created?

George Stein

March 30th, 2012
3:36 pm

Bingo, Academic Man. That’s exactly what I was saying, too.

TBA-Man

March 30th, 2012
3:38 pm

UGA change your policy make it like FLORIDA or STFU.

5150 UOAD The Richard Head

March 30th, 2012
3:40 pm

@5150

Only a pervert like yourself would put this on a football blog. But them again, with your posts from the past, we should not be surprised that your a perv. Go back to your basement.

Steve

March 30th, 2012
3:40 pm

Yea Ohio State NEVER gets in trouble “Buckeye.”

Grantham's The Man

March 30th, 2012
3:41 pm

Bowden, “I know a lot of schools — I don’t want to say something I shouldn’t say – but [they] don’t have to drug test. I wonder what’s motivating Bobby from not naming names?

We know who you mean coach. The more Ga players get into trouble for drinking and smoking the more obvious it becomes that UGA is one of the few who are doing anything about the problem.

AuburnCreed

March 30th, 2012
3:42 pm

This is a horse manure article. Just because Richt and his staff can’t keep THEIR players in line doesn’t make it a problem for the rest of college football.

HORSE MANURE!!!

Again the AJC becomes the apologist for THUGA’s drug and thug problem!!!

DIT

March 30th, 2012
3:43 pm

It’s stupid to compare to what other programs do or don’t due for a drug policy. I like the fact the CMR has them take a drug test AFTER spring break.
This shows who is loyal and who is not. Get rid of the riff raff. If you don’t want to give 100% to the team then you should not be playing there.

Earl Hickey

March 30th, 2012
3:49 pm

Anybody that can spell CAT can get into Georgia. I agree there should be uniform admission standards as well but that would disqualify Richt’s usual assortment of gutter rats.

Steve

March 30th, 2012
3:49 pm

Awww AuburnCreed don’t be sad because your little program cheats (CAM) and gets put on probation all the time.

5150 UOAD

March 30th, 2012
3:50 pm

5150 UOAD The Richard Head…………just trying to lighten the DEATH MOOD about dWag ball. So I am a perv but the Female form has a NATIONAL DAY? You are a Moe Ron.