A new future for UGA sports? How new rules could alter how athletics handles arrests
ATHENS, Ga. -- There are changes in store to the University of Georgia Athletic Association Substance Abuse Policy.
In a summary obtained by 11Alive, the new policy appears to remove the former stipulation that any arrest regardless of the outcome in court automatically counted as a violation of the Substance Abuse Policy.
According to the 15-page document dated Sept. 1, there are now two levels of violations which now apply to student-athletes attending school at UGA.
Level 1 -- "Defined as possession, use, or facilitating the possession/use of alcohol."
Level 2 -- "Includes, but is not limited to, any violation involving the operation of a motor vehicle after consumption of alcohol and/or the use of drugs, acts of violence while using alcohol or drugs, destruction of property, disorderly conduct, or intoxication level that requires medical treatment or results in medical being called, even if treatment is refused, and any drug violation."
Any violations of the Level 2 variety are considered violations of the Substance Abuse Policy.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity deferred comment when reached by UGASports until the complete UGA student-athlete handbook could be obtained via open records.
News of the changes came to light following the Dec. 4 arrest of Bulldog linebacker Natrez Patrick and wide receiver Jayson Stanley.
Patrick was charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana, charges that were dropped on Thursday by the Probate Court of Barrow County.
Despite the charges being dropped, the current online version of UGA Student-Athlete Handbook indicates that an arrest counts as a violation of the Substance Abuse Policy. By those guidelines, Patrick would be considered a third-time offender and lose his scholarship. But the new policy has no such stipulation.
A DUI charge against Stanley was dropped, although he did agree to a conditional discharge plea of guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and a guilty plea to speeding, according to his attorney, Kevin Christopher of Jefferson.
According to the summary, all student-athletes are subject to drug tests, including scholarship and non-scholarship players, as well as those academically ineligible and those who have exhausted athletic eligibility but are still receiving financial aid and using other athletic services.
Sanctions for violators remain the same, albeit with one specific caveat where any exception to sanctions must be approved by the Director of Athletics on a case by case basis based upon the recommendation of the university’s substance abuse treatment team, which consists of team doctors, trainers, and high-level administration.
Punishments will include:
First Offense – Includes suspension from competition of no less than 10 percent of the total sports season and possible loss of scholarship.
Second Offense – Includes suspension from competition of no less than 30 percent of the total sports season and possible loss of scholarship.
Third Offense – The sudent-athlete will be permanently suspended and scholarship (if applicable) will be terminated.
Other items of note:
► …A student-athlete who tests positive under the terms of the UGAAA Substance abuse policy is entitled to and may request a hearing with the Appeals Committee prior to the imposition of any sanction.
► …A student-athlete who believes that they may have a problem with or suffer from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and wishes to obtain help may confidentially self-refer into the “Medical Amnesty Program”, where they will be assessed by trained professionals in order to determine the severity of the problem and subsequently make recommendation for treatment. Voluntary participation by the student-athlete in the “Medical Amnesty Program” will NOT be considered a first offense under the Substance Abuse Policy. All new student-athletes will be drug tested at the time of their pre-participation examination or within 14 days of their arrival on campus. Any new student-athlete who has a positive test as a part of the entry pre-physical exam will be placed into the “Medical Amnesty” program and will NOT be considered to have committed a first offense under the Substance Abuse Policy.
► …Under the Good Samaritan Policy”, a student-athlete who seeks medical help for themselves or for fellow students suffering from emergency related to alcohol or other drugs will be protected from UGAAA sanctions for violating substance abuse policies.