Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Reflector
Author: Randy Jones
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


On July 2 last summer, incoming D.H. Conley principal Michael Lutz and
new athletic director Rob Maloney had a scheduled meeting.

It was a chance for the two to get acquainted. It also got serious in
a hurry.

Lutz remembers plainly the first thing that the Vikings' coach wanted
to discuss.

"He walked in and had this idea from the start," Lutz said. "He wanted
to have a drug testing policy that could be used to help the kids. It
was the first thing we talked about."

That meeting sparked a seven-month journey that comes to fruition
today as the new pilot drug testing policy goes into effect for
student-athletes at Conley, making it the first school in Pitt County
to do so.

Student-athletes, including cheerleaders, will be subject to random
drug tests for recreational drug use during the season in which they
are competing. The testing will be done on 10 percent of each team's
participants. Those chosen will be based completely on ID numbers
assigned to the student-athletes and then randomly selected. There is
no set date for the actual tests to occur.

Maloney pointed out that a student-athlete could be randomly selected
more than once if they participate in more than one sport.

"I'll make the comparison to teachers," Maloney said. "Anybody in the
school system that has a CDL bus license, myself included, is randomly
tested for drugs. I've had years where I've been tested multiple
times. I do think the chances of that happening are very, very slim in
all honesty."

This program is a test program that if successful, may become a
county-wide policy.

"It's very likely it could be the whole county at once," Pitt County
Athletics Director Rob Dailey said. "I think that is going to be more
answered after we see how successful this program is. Then we will try
and understand what level of interest we have at our other schools."

The policy was put in place to be an aid to coaches in bettering the
lives of student-athletes, Maloney said. It is also a plan for
treatment, not punishment.

"I think most people, when they think drug testing, they think knee
jerk reactions and if a student athlete tests positive we are kicking
them to the curb," Maloney said. "That is very opposite of what our
staff wants to do. Our athletes are very important to us. What we
wanted to do was be sure to adopt a polity that addresses the
situation but would also lend to curing the situation. We want to be
careful about that.

"We don't want to remove kids, we're trying to reach

A first positive test will result in a 21 calendar day suspension from
competing in games. A student-athlete can continue to attend games and
practices, however.

"We want to keep them involved," Maloney said.

To be reinstated, the student-athlete must take part in a
treatment/counseling program as well as have a clear drug test.

A second suspension is for 42 calendar days and a third will result in
a full 365-day suspension.

Only the principal, coach, athletic director and parent or guardian
will be informed of the results of the positive test result to ensure
every student's privacy.

"That is where it ends," Maloney said.

Lutz has experience with drug testing athletes. While at Tarboro, the
Vikings' athletic department implemented a similar program.

"It changes what kids talk about," Lutz said. "It changes what kids
think is cool. It changes a lot of stuff at their level. I can't say
it stops it, but it certainly stops their public conversation about
what they do and a lot of other stuff."

Lutz added that in his time, only three student-athletes tested

The cost of the program is substantial, but not overwhelming, said

Each test will cost $16 per student screened. There is also a $22 cost
for confirmation of an initial screen result. Based upon numbers from
2006-07, there were 465 student-athletes at Conley. The cost of
testing 10 percent would be $744, with an additional $256 budgeted for
other costs, for a total of $1,000.

The tests will be performed by Professional Testing Services Mobile of
Winterville. They will use oral swab testing.

All of the money will come from the athletic department budgets. The
Vikings Booster Club has also shown an interest in helping with some
of the cost.

Booster Club President Keith Askew said the organization has been
involved from the get-go in the process of getting the program off the

"We want Conley to be a leader in the community and be the first to
try and do this," he said. "I've heard reactions like 'Well, you guys
must have a lot of problems out there.' And that's just not the case.
It's just being reactionary and helping any kids that may have
problems, cut it off early."

He added that there have been little to no voices of dissension among
parents he has talked to.

Lutz said he too has heard almost no negative commentary about the
policy - just one parent that spoke out at a school board meeting in
December when the board approved the policy.

"I haven't had anybody approach me to say 'why are you thinking of
doing that?' or anything that way," Lutz said. "Rob and I specifically
wrote the policy to be positive for kids. The one thing the board
asked was do you have any experience with a policy that is this
proactive, because that is a new angle. I really haven't found
anything that is treatment oriented this much in our research.

"But that is something we really wanted for this program."
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