When the Southeastern Conference presidents and chancellors met Thursday at the league’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla., much of the time was spent with “tedious” talk of such things as league legislative matters, according to Georgia president Michael Adams.
There was also brief discussion about schools’ drug-testing policies and drug use at their schools. It will be talked about more at an October meeting when it will be an agenda item.
“As a conference we decided we want to educate ourselves a little bit more about what every university does,” South Carolina president Harris Pastides said, “and then someday if we believe we want to make it more standardized — but I want to be clear there was no decision to standardize what they do and what we do has to be the same. There was some discussion about that.”
Asked if he sees the possibility of a uniform drug-testing policy for the conference coming, Adams said “I don’t know yet.”
Adams said he suggested the SEC create a conference-wide committee to include outside experts to examine the issues.
“I am probably more interested in it from the standpoint of protecting young people and better education than I am just the level-playing field issue,” Adams said. “I don’t know that you’re ever going to get all of that the same. … I think there seems to be a rise again in drug use, and I think it’s something that we need to take a look at.”
Georgia’s relatively strong penalty structure for violations of its drug-testing policies drew scrutiny this spring. Defensive backs Branden Smith and Bacarri Rambo are facing suspensions early this season. Smith was arrested on a possession of marijuana charge and Rambo violated Georgia’s drug-testing policy for a second time.
Pastides said the discussion in Destin on the first of two days of meetings for the presidents was “really about the point of view of student welfare and sharing best practices.”
He said the discussion in the fall won’t be “necessarily to standardize it, but to find out what each university — because we all do something — to find out the periodicity of screening is and what the enforcement of what you find. We believe, I think most of us believe, that 75 percent of the issue is not what we would call recreational drugs, but probably with the prescription drugs, but they’re all important, and you throw in alcohol.”
SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who wasn’t at the Thursday meeting because of the birth of his grandchild, said the league has examined drug-testing policies at least twice since he became commissioner in 2002 and “decided that the league was still comfortable with everybody having their own system.”
Whether that changes remains to be seen.
“I don’t know yet what the endgame will be,” Adams said, “because I think we’re just on the front end of talking about it.”