News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

April 19, 2013

Drug-testing, discipline at Indiana State among toughest among its peers for athletics

TERRE HAUTE — No matter the level of sport, drug testing can be a stealthy exercise.

To a degree, that’s by design. The very nature of random drug tests dictates that they are done without notice or pomp and circumstance. Privacy of the athletes who take the tests is paramount and is a valued part of the process.

Though positive tests that occur at an NCAA-sponsored event have specific penalties per sport, each school is charged with creating its own policies for regular season contests. It creates a gaggle of policies where there’s little uniformity among the NCAA’s schools.

One thing most NCAA schools have in common? Unlike professional sports, positive tests by collegians are almost never announced to the public.

The net effect is that drug testing among student-athletes is an exercise done in the shadows. The public almost never knows when a positive test occurs and student-athletes themselves are sometimes in the dark as to what their fate is if they happen to run afoul of the testing process.

Indiana State University’s athletic department has to deal with the reality of random drug testing as much as any other university has, but in its own way, it has tried to shine light on the process as much as is possible, at least as far as the penalties for a positive test are concerned.

ISU’s method is to make its policies so specific that when a positive test does occur, there’s no ambiguity among coaches and athletes as to what the penalty for a positive test entails.

No school in the Missouri Valley Conference has a penalty structure for a first-time positive drug test or substance abuse occurrence as specific as ISU’s policy is stated in its student-athlete handbook.

It could also be argued that ISU’s policy is the strictest in the MVC.

Of the MVC schools that have their drug testing policies and penalties available to the public, ISU’s is the only one that specifically spells out game suspensions for first-time offenders.

“As much as we like to see our kids go on to the NBA, NFL or Major League Baseball, our job is to train our kids to be productive citizens and help them learn and develop skills,” ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman said. “The fact that we’re holding them accountable for their actions and that they need to abide by the rules helps them for life after college. It’s something I’m really big on.”

For a first time positive test, the game suspension length depends on the length of each sport’s season. Baseball and softball players sit out three games because their season contains more contests. Basketball, soccer and volleyball have two-game penalties. All other sports have a one-game penalty for a first time test.

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High School
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