Now that a severe suspension has been issued by PITT for whatever reason it may be a good time to review the NCAA’s and the School’s responsibilities in one aspect of discipline – the drug policies.
We don’t know what happened with Howard but we’ve seen the academic suspensions resolve themselves after one semester or a certain period of time. We have also seen other disciplinary actions resulting from drinking, fights, arrests, issued by a number of games also. If you remember Anthony Gonzalez was suspended two games by Graham basically for possession of pot, but there was no failed test involved. However, any disciplinary action can be gived a year suspension if the university deems it necessary.
So, just to remind our readers; there are two types of drug tests in D1 football. One is the NCAA mandatory test that is unannounced and the other is the school’s tests issued according to its formal policy. Here is a link to the NCAA’s drug policy. Also, the following is from the NCAA’s Q&A about their policies.
“Who is responsible for testing student-athletes?
The NCAA and its member schools share the responsibility of not only testing, but also educating student-athletes to prevent drug usage. The NCAA conducts testing at its championships and programs in Divisions I and II through its year-round testing program. In addition, the majority of institutions conduct their own institutional testing programs independent of NCAA drug testing. The NCAA spends more than $5 million annually on drug testing and education in an effort to deter the use of banned and harmful substances.
What is the penalty for a positive drug test?
The penalty for positive tests of both performance-enhancing and street drugs is strict and automatic. Student-athletes lose one full year of eligibility for the first offense (25 percent of their total eligibility) and are withheld from competition for a full season. A second positive test for street drugs results in another lost year of eligibility and year withheld from competition. A second positive result for PED usage will render the student-athlete permanently ineligible.
What is the penalty for failing a school-issued drug test?
Each NCAA member is responsible for determining whether to establish an institutional drug-testing program, at which time the school would be responsible for determining applicable penalties. If a testing program is established, though, the school is obligated to enforce the penalties. Failure to do so can lead to NCAA sanctions.
I know that PITT has had strict penalties mirroring the NCAA’s one year suspension (but using it as a redshirt year) in the past. I can’t say with 100% that is still in effect but I’d bet it is. One important note with this; if the player fails a NCAA test the suspension can’t be considered a “redshirt year” as it is an automatic loss of 25% of eligibility. In essence they have only a total of three other years to play college football instead of four out of five as it is with a redshirt season. An individual school can apply a redshirt… as long as that is the school formal written drug program policy.
Now, along with that the PITT staff has the authority to impose suspensions “for cause” which would fall under the umbrella of disciplinary issues. Sometimes those are the individual games suspensions as was the case with Gonzalez, Gunn, the six kids before the Bowling Green game in 2013, etc..