Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2014
Source: Macon Telegraph (GA)
Copyright: 2014 The Macon Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Alan Preston


After purchasing an Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper on Feb. 21,
I read the opinion piece by sportswriter Jeff Schultz, "UGA's policy
gets it right." Schultz was referring to the UGA athletic drug policy
following the recent dismissal of a key defensive football player. His
factual observations, negative feedback from football fans and
comparisons with other university drug policies hit the nail on the
head when distinguishing between winning at any cost versus the lives
of young athletes.

Within this sports column, UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity
acknowledged that other SEC athletic directors had preliminary
discussions about a conference-wide policy last year. McGarity further
stated, "the issue got no traction with presidents."

When I attended McKibben-Lane Elementary School over 30 years ago I
had a physical education teacher by the name of Randy Carr.

He told our class, "You cannot be an athlete if you smoke." At the
time, Coach Carr was mainly referring to tobacco products sold in stores.

The closest I ever came to playing sports in high school was managing
varsity football for four years. Fortunately, his quote motivated me
from a spiritual and physical perspective to never become a smoker of
any type.

As Schultz emphasized, "there's something wrong within a sport when
testing positive for marijuana will get you suspended on one campus,
but get you a brownie on another." In fact, a third violation of the
UGA drug policy results in forfeiture of an athletic

We currently live in a society in which accountability, discipline and
moral values have been supplanted and replaced by secular tolerance,
unwarranted civil liberties, and undeserving entitlements.

When former Florida State football Coach Bobby Bowden spoke at a
spring athletic banquet at UGA, he cited a study in which over 25
percent of NCAA football players admitted to smoking marijuana.

He also emphasized if more college football programs implemented and
enforced their own drug testing programs, news coverage and
suspensions would be more widespread. The revocation of scholarships
would also increase.

Schultz reminded college football fans that a scholarship is a
contract, and a student-athlete must adhere to physical training,
attending practices, and other guidelines (behavioral, academic,
law-abiding, etc.).

If a college football player is permitted to violate rules because his
abilities on the field are essential for his team to win a
championship, this young man's future will likely be met with more
negative repercussions than privileged success. Later in life this
individual might get hired for a job at a prestigious company that
requires a mandatory drug test for new employees.

The once beloved football icon then tests positive for drugs and his
employment is suddenly terminated.

This athlete might commit assault on a weekend at a popular nightclub.
Sadly, the judge who dropped charges for a similar crime while the
football player was still in college is no longer presiding over this
case. As a result, accountability then becomes a harsh reality.

In either of the above scenarios, an athletes post collegiate
character flaws that result in sudden punishment can be traced back to
the misguided motives of collegiate and conference athletic leaders.

It is also a travesty to think that university presidents do not
express more concern as well.

- -- Alan Preston

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