The NCAA is a hard-liner on a lot of issues, but there aren't many things it's stricter on than marijuana. Okay, maybe that's not true — it's pretty tough on caffeine intake, as well. But Mitch McGary's one-year suspension for a failed pot test brought the NCAA's absurd rules regarding recreational drugs to light once again.
The funny thing is, the NCAA knows its pot rules are absurd. They changed the punishment from a year-long suspension to half a year, which is better, but still pretty ridiculous compared to other suspensions.
Drug tests in college sports are a convoluted mess. The NCAA tests around its championships — when McGary was busted — and although the tests are supposedly random, they really aren't, so it's curious that McGary was tested even though he wasn't even playing.
NCAA rule for random drug tests at team championship events: selection of player "may be based on competitive ranking, random selection ..— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 25, 2014
"position of finish, or other NCAA approved selection method." ... So, whatever they want to do, even if it's not random.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 25, 2014
Was smoking weed near the NCAA Tournament a bad idea? Yes. But it was also just bad timing. If McGary had tested positive at Michigan, he wouldn't have even been punished. Even if he had been caught smoking by the Ann Arbor police, the punishment would have been next to nothing.
McGary smoking a joint in a police officer's face in Ann Arbor would be a $25 fine, same price as a parking ticket.— Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) April 25, 2014
The rules vary wildly among colleges when it comes to marijuana use, even among Big Ten schools.
That's right, at Illinois you have to be caught FOUR TIMES before you're suspended for a year. And you still won't even be dismissed from the team!
In the NBA, the rules are even more lenient than at most colleges. Players are only suspended after having three positive tests in a given period, and even then, it's only a five-game suspension. Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders even found a convenient way to get around that — he's serving the suspension while he's injured.
Thank goodness for the NCAA, maintaining it's strong policy on marijuana when basically everyone else has created much more lenient punishments. If they didn't, we might have pilots getting high on the job. These are the stakes.