Florida quarterback Will Grier was suspended for 365 days Monday after failing an NCAA drug test for a banned substance.
That part of the punishment is straightforward. Barring a successful appeal, Grier cannot play again until the seventh game of next season, since he has already played the first six games of this season.
Will Florida have to vacate wins?
Grier has led the Gators to a 6-0 record, and the situation here is much simpler. If Florida didn't know, it's hard to think the NCAA would punish Florida.
"I can't say absolutely that the NCAA wouldn't move to vacate wins, but it seems unlikely if the timeline is what we think [meaning that he was tested recently and that UF didn't knowingly play him after a failed test]," said a compliance director at a power-conference program.
On Monday, head coach Jim McElwain said he found out the day before.
What are Florida's chances of shortening Grier's suspension?
Grier will have to sit out while he appeals. If UF wins, he will regain his original eligibility and be eligible to compete immediately. However, based on past NCAA action, it is very unlikely he will win, as also confirmed by an athletic department source at a different school.
This is one of the hardest areas in which to get an appeal or a reduction of suspension, said the compliance director.
In his press conference, Grier said, "I took an over-the-counter supplement that had something in it. And I did not check with the medical staff." However, NCAA bylaws specifically state that not knowing is not an excuse, so Grier doesn't really have grounds for appeal on this, especially since programs repeatedly remind players to check first.
One trainer at an FBS program said his school even keeps track of which players are using Zyrtec, a seasonal allergy medication. Players at that school aren't allowed to take Benadryl without contacting trainers first.
The only way he could conceivably win on appeal is if the supplement was for an extreme medical condition, but that does not appear to be the case in this situation, though UF denied reports that the supplement is the muscle-loss treatment Ligandrol. And even if it was the case, it does not mean he would win, since he did not check with Florida's trainers.
Update: the following section was reported based on conversations with two officials at FBS athletic departments, one of whom confirmed with multiple colleagues. But the NCAA has since issued a surprising clarification:
NCAA clarifies rule, says QB Will Grier would return as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, not a junior as many thought
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) October 12, 2015
Longtime NCAA compliance expert John Infante describes the penalty as having apparently changed with little notice.
An additional part of the NCAA rule affects Grier. He also loses a year of eligibility.
Normally, athletes have five years to play four seasons, but with the loss of a year of eligibility, Grier gets five years to play three.
"Student-athletes lose one full year of eligibility for the first offense (25 percent of their total eligibility) and are withheld from competition for a full season."
Before this suspension, Grier was a redshirt freshman in 2015. Now, he is essentially a sophomore this year and will be a junior when he returns.
Grier is also charged a season, plus the one he used this year, so barring a successful appeal he’ll return as a JR.
— John Infante (@John_Infante) October 12, 2015
Here is his situation if he chooses to return to play in 2016, as confirmed by athletic department sources at two different schools.
If Grier plays next year, his college career can only include 24 regular season games played. Had he not been suspended, he would have been able to play 48.
Grier could also choose to sit all of next year. He still has three more years to play two seasons, but if he plays even six games next season, that counts as a full year. Sitting out would give him more potential total games in his college career.