Drugs and college sports in the news

Drug crimes are serious when anyone faces them, but a drug charge may be particularly damaging for a college athlete. Student athletes tend to have some of the most high profile drug cases and a recent spate of marijuana possession allegations has many wondering whether there is a drug problem in some college athletic programs.

Syracuse University in New York was recently accused of violating its drug policy by ignoring positive drug tests and playing athletes that did have positive tests. The accusations arise out of the university’s basketball program and stretch as far back as 2001. The Syracuse athletic program has refused to comment on the allegations, citing the ongoing NCAA investigation into the school. The school’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim also refused to comment on the investigation.

Another NCAA inquiry revealed that Baylor University also failed to report and act on positive marijuana tests for three of its players. The severe penalties against the school included probation, a ban on nonconference games for a half-season and a reduction in paid recruiting trips.

Although students in these cases generally avoid criminal prosecution for marijuana use, some students are not so lucky. University of Georgia cornerback Branden Smith was recently arrested for marijuana possession. The arrest occurred during a traffic stop after officers allegedly found a “baseball-sized” package of marijuana on the backseat of the car. The passenger in the car was also arrested. It is unclear what disciplinary steps the university will take, if any, in connection with Smith’s arrest.

Source: Yahoo Sports, “Sources: Syracuse basketball program repeatedly violated internal drug policy,” Charles Robinson and Pat Forde, March 5, 2012; The Athens Red & Black, “UGA cornerback Branden Smith arrested in Alabama on marijuana possession charges,” Polina Marinova, March 12, 2012

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