Word comes from Greg McGarity that the SEC is considering the possibility of the conference implementing a conference-wide substance-abuse policy, with a possible vote by its presidents tomorrow. While the author of the piece thinks the devil’s in the details (“How frequent are the tests? What exactly constitutes a positive test? Would the SEC hire an outside company to conduct the tests or leave it up to the individual schools? Would all the testing methods be identical or just the penalties?”), I’m gonna put my money down on our old friend competitive advantage as the real sticking point.
Based on the substance-abuse policies obtained by ESPN from the schools’ official websites or through public records requests, a student-athlete at Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and LSU is dismissed after a fourth positive test, while the remaining 10 SEC schools dismiss a student-athlete after only a third positive test…
… Some SEC athletic directors and coaches, who didn’t want to be quoted, think that certain schools have “competitive advantages” based on how frequently — or infrequently — they test or how many games student-athletes miss for positive tests.
For example, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi State require student-athletes to miss 10 percent of their regular-season contests after a first positive test, while the remaining 11 SEC schools don’t suspend a student-athlete for a first offense.
Punishment for a second positive test also varies greatly among league members. At Missouri, a second positive test results in only a seven-day suspension, compared to Auburn and Kentucky (suspended for 50 percent of the season) or Vanderbilt (a one-year suspension).
McGarity and Adams are the ones pushing this hard, according to the article, so you can bet this isn’t about relaxing Georgia’s drug standards to level the playing field. So let’s just say that when I hear Les Miles play the fairness card in this area, maybe I’ll start to believe the conference is having a Come to Jesus moment on the subject. In the meantime, it’s every school’s integrity for itself.