By: Layla Kellogg
The Spring 2018 semester begin with a new drug testing policy for Bellarmine University intercollegiate athletes that brings a unified set of expectations and guidelines.
The new testing policy is consistent with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) standards and aims to “encourage fair and equitable athletic competition without the use and/or abuse of prohibited drugs and substances,” according to the policy statement.
Scott Wiegandt, director of athletics, said there has not been an incident that sparked the new policy; it is a best practice.
“I view it as trying to have a more comprehensive sports program and continuing the educational piece of it,” Wiegandt said. “Our students and student-athletes alike are responsible for what goes in their body.”
The policy follows the NCAA Drug Testing Protocol, which includes student-athletes who are actively participating, temporarily or permanently unable to participate for medical reasons, ineligible, or who have exhausted eligibility but are still receiving athletic aid.
The NCAA tests for steroids, peptide hormones and diuretics or other masking agents year-round but also tests for stimulants and recreational drugs during championships.
Student-athletes may be selected at random, through entire team testing, for reasonable suspicion, through NCAA year-round or championship testing, or follow-up testing after a positive drug test.
“From an NCAA perspective, a positive test can immediately end a season,” Wiegandt said.
According to Bellarmine’s Intercollegiate Drug Testing Policy, when a student has a positive test result, the testing laboratory will notify the director of athletics and head athletic trainer.
The first positive test results in the student-athlete’s mandatory participation in all university conduct processes for drug and alcohol use, as well as a suspension for 10 percent of dates of competition for each sport played.
If an athlete receives a second positive test, he or she will be suspended for 50 percent of competition dates and will not be allowed to practice with the team. This may also result in a loss or reduction of athletic aid.
If a student-athlete receives a third positive test, he or she will be immediately dismissed from the team. The director of athletics will then recommend cancellation or non-renewal of his or her athletics scholarship as soon as possible, according to the policy.
Dean of Students Dr. Sean McGreevey said if there is a report of a drug violation on campus, in athletics or otherwise, the drug policy outlined in the Student Handbook is followed.
McGreevey said a first violation may be either probation or suspension, depending on the severity. When there is a second drug violation, the result is usually a full-semester suspension.
Before a decision is made, students receive due process, which includes at least three days’ notice, the ability to review the information in his or her file, the opportunity to call witnesses and the ability to bring an adviser to the hearing.
“(Students) have rights, and those rights are outlined,” McGreevey said. “Because a drug violation is a suspendable offense, we would go to a full-panel hearing with the chief hearing officer, a faculty member and a staff member.”
McGreevey said if a student-athlete violates the athletic drug policy, he is notified. Likewise, if there is a conduct violation elsewhere on campus, such as in residence halls, Student Affairs will notify athletics.
“A coach needs to know if one of their students has been in a conduct violation,” McGreevey said.
Wiegandt said there have not been any violations of the testing policy since its implementation at the start of the semester.
Student-athletes received email notification before semester break that a new testing policy would be in place when they returned for the spring semester.
“They were told about the possible implementation of this at their back-to-school compliance meetings,” Wiegandt said. “I wanted a little more time to make sure we vetted it appropriately.”
Wiegandt said the policy is based on research of other programs both in and outside of Bellarmine’s league, the Great Lakes Valley Conference. It was then vetted by staff, coaches and administrators. A student-athlete advisory committee also gave feedback on the policy.
Wiegandt said the new policy is designed to educate Bellarmine’s student-athletes and ensure they understand the implications of using banned drugs.
“It affects their eligibility, number one,” Wiegandt said. “Obviously, I want our student-athletes to perform well and ultimately perform clean, and that’s the expectation here.”
No student-athletes asked felt comfortable commenting on the new policy.