On Thursday night, dawgpost.com broke a story about Georgia's Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree being suspended for multiple games to start the 2012 season. Rambo's High School coach was quoted as saying "Bacarri went down to Panama City Beach with some friends. One of the nights he went to bed before they did. He got up the next morning, was hungry and found some brownies on the table. He had some with some milk and told me, 'I got high.' The other guys got up and told him that the brownies were not for him. Apparently they were laced with marijuana." Now obviously that sounds possible (we've all been on spring break, right?) but also a bit far fetched.
The AJC reports that "according to UGA’s 2011-12 student-athlete handbook, a second offense of the athletic association’s drug policy calls for a suspension from 30 percent of competition dates". In that same article, Rambo's high school coach also talks about Rambo's first suspension (last year's opener against Boise State). He says that Rambo was suspended because he was pulled over while speeding and his passenger was found to have a joint in her purse. If we are to believe Rambo's coach (and honestly I'm not buying into both of his stories 100%) then Rambo has drawn the short straw with the friends that he's taken up with.
Whether these statements are true or not, Rambo has put himself into bad situations and he now has to face his actions. I'm not here to discuss whether or not Rambo should be suspended or for how many games he should be suspended. I think this is an opportunity to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture is the SEC's policing or lack of policing of drug use by student athletes.
One thing to ask from a fans perspective is "Is everybody being treated the same". One of the things that the SEC prides itself on is treating everybody fairly and equally:
One of the many great things about the SEC is all member institutions are treated equally and fairly, not only in terms of revenue distributions, but also in the administration of policies and procedures.
When it comes to drug policies this is not true and if we look at a list that our buddies over at Leather Helmet Blog put together last year you will see some startling differences in the penalties around the conference for a failed drug test or tests (it should be noted that this list was put together last year so there may be some updates since it was posted).
On one hand you have a school like Ole Miss that doesn't suspend a player until they fail three drug tests. In another corner you have schools like Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee that will suspend a player for 10% of games after a second drug test but have no suspension for one failed test. The only schools that suspend a player for one failed drug test are Georgia and Kentucky (Vanderbilt is a private school so they do not have to disclose their drug policy).
The goal should be to not have any student athletes fail drug tests. Let's be honest, in today's society that's simply getting harder and harder to avoid. What should be done is that drug testing and punishment should be uniform within the SEC and within each conference. I would expand my argument to the NCAA but they would probably take it to the extreme and it's safe to say they would probably bungle the execution. If the SEC wants to make the policy tougher, like Georgia and Kentucky, then they should do that. If they want to make it more lax, like Florida or Ole Miss, then that's what they should do. I think it's time that the SEC took a stand and made this issue uniform among all schools. The SEC should take control of this and put everybody on an even playing field.