Marijuana in College Football

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ESPN posted an article online today about the prevalence of marijuana use among collegiate athletes, specifically in football. Of 400,000 student athletes, about .6 percent will be tested for marijuana. In a recent survey, a total of 22.6 percent of student athletes admitted to using marijuana, while 26.7 percent of football players admitted to consuming it.

In January, police arrested University of Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for marijuana possession a week-and-a-half after leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship. The charges were later dropped, and Kirkpatrick is still a likely first-round pick. In February, four football players were among 17 Texas Christian University students arrested in a campuswide drug sting. They were charged with delivering a quarter-ounce to five pounds of marijuana to undercover agents. Five TCU players tested positive for marijuana and another 11 had trace amounts within the margin of error after a Feb. 1 test.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, “If marijuana infiltrates your program, then everyone is going to do it and you’ve got a huge problem. If you don’t test and do it right, that’s what’s going to happen — because it’s everywhere on college campuses.” Saban maintains a no-nonsense approach. “I think if the NCAA did it, it would be just like the NCAA is now…They come and test at a bowl game, and if a guy tests positive, he’s suspended for a year and they don’t spend any money on [counseling or rehabilitation].” 

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon disagrees, saying, “Student-athletes are going to be no different than other students in getting caught up in marijuana, unless there is clarity around the fact it’s wrong and there are consequences if you do it.”

We all remember the hooplah surrounding Michael Phelps’ picture of him smoking marijuana at the University of Southern California. If it is prevalent among athletes at the top of their sport, it is certainly present at the colegiate level.

Any professional sport league tests for marijuana along side performance enhancing drugs while in season. At the college level, officials view PEDs as more of a concern, as they should. These athletes are in college to perform well in their sport, but to also be college kids. Each school is in charge of their own drug testing. “I know of a lot of schools, and I don’t want to say something I shouldn’t say — but you don’t have to drug-test,” said former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. “If you don’t want your boys to be caught with drugs, don’t drug-test them.”

The emphasis has been put on PEDs, and at Dartmouth, a Division I school, more emphasis should be put on that. We don’t have the best sports teams in every sport, but protecting our athletes from the harmful effects of PEDs takes precedence over recreational marijuana or synthetic marijuana use.


–George Mendoza