Today: Jun 25, 2024

Athletic department educates students about drug policy

Josh FalconeGeneral Assignment Reporter

 

Every student-athlete at Southern Connecticut State University is mandated to take a drug test while they are in season as part of the university’s Athletic Department’s mandated drug testing policy on Performance Enhancing drugs, alcohol, and illicit drug use.

Director of Athletics Patricia Nicol said that the policy is there to educate and protect Southern’s student-athletes.

“We incorporated a mandatory drug testing program here because we feel that it is more of an educational approach,” Nicol said, “and in no way are we doing this in a punitive standpoint. This is to educate and to be pro-active.”

Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Boe Pearman said that the Athletic Department’s policy is also in place to compliment the NCAA’s own policy.

“So if somebody does have a problem,” she said, “we can address it, and try to get them the help they need before it becomes a big problem on a NCAA drug testing level.”

Nicol said being hands on regarding Southern’s student-athletes health and well-being is the athletic departments highest goal.

Head Athletic Trainer Carol Nelson said she does a lot of drug education with the school’s athletes, including educating them on supplements and medications.

“They have been very responsible about it,” Nelson said. “If they have something they want to try, they bring it, we discuss it and if we can, we look it up with ‘Drug Free Sport’.”

Nelson said that anytime athletes are given a prescription medication they also report it to the department.

“They have been very responsive in that effect,” she said.

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Many of the supplements sold over the counter are banned in college athletics, and it is suggested to student-athletes to make sure the supplement is legal before use.

Nicol said she believes this aspect of the policy has been instructive to the university’s athletes in regards to the various over-the-counter products that will cause a positive drug test.

Pearman added that even the ever-popular energy drinks are an item that student-athletes cannot drink because they would cause a positive drug test. Pearman and Nelson jointly host meetings that supply student-athletes with information pertaining to banned substances.

“They leave with paper information which links to websites that will give them all the ingredients and products that they really need to stay away from,” Pearman said. “And we give them a list of banned drugs out there.”

As for the punishment student-athletes face for a first offense of a drug violation, Nicol and the administrators said the punishment is a 14 day suspension from any athletic related activity followed by a suspension of 20 percent of in-season competitions.

“If we have a 10 game football season,” Nicol said, “the student-athlete would be suspended for 14 days and then he would miss two games.”

Pearman said that student-athletes who fail a drug test could miss additional contests, if the competition falls within the 14 day suspension.

The Athletic Departments penalties for a second offense are a suspension for 30 days as well as the suspension from 20 percent of competitions. A third offense is outright dismissal from the team as well being banned from all intramural, intercollegiate, and club sports.

Nicol said that the department’s punishments’ for infractions are based on the Connecticut State University policies, but that the penalties are modified to what each university feels is appropriate.

Pearman said that the NCAA punishment is if a student-athlete is caught with a first time offense they are banned for one year from the date of the positive test, and a second offense is punished with a lifetime ban.

“They cannot transfer to another institution, they cannot play intramural, they cannot have anything to do with their sport,” she said. “So it is a very, very serious offense.”

Nelson said that the schools policy also has the offender attend drug and alcohol counseling and if a student-athlete decides that they are going to leave the team or transfer, the counseling is still mandatory.

“They still have to go to counseling,” she said, “or they will not be released in good standing.

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Pearman said that that it is really a health and safety issue and that the Athletic Department is going to do their part to help the student-athlete address the issue.

“We don’t feel in good conscience that by allowing them to run off to another school without talking to a counselor is doing what we intended to do with the drug testing policy,” Pearman said. “So by at least making them go see that counselor …we have done what we set out to do, which is to get them to the right people.”

Nicol seconded that the goal of the department is to help its’ student-athletes.

“The intent is more prevention, intervention, being pro-active, and addressing who may have a serious problem.”

Nicol said she believes the Athletic Department’s policy on drugs and alcohol has been a wonderful thing for the department.

“It has been a very positive thing for the department,” she said. “I think it has been well received by the coaches and I think it has become a cultural change too. And these are the expectations we have of our student-athletes. We have got to do everything we can to try to help them, protect them, and educate them.”

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