Ronald Reagan used to say that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were, "I'm with the government, and I'm here to help." In college sports, the most terrifying phrase one can hear is "I'm Charles Robinson with Yahoo Sports and I'm here to investigate." After breaking the Nevin Shapiro-Miami story last year (while I was on my honeymoon, thanks Charles!), Charles Robinson and equally adept Yahoo Sports reporter Pat Forde have uncovered yet another scandal on a college campus. This time, it's Syracuse basketball. According to their report, Syracuse routinely failed to adhere to its own drug testing policy when it came to disciplining basketball players. The report states:
Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.
While college students doing drugs is not breaking news, a school failing to adhere to a policy that it set could make it liable to punishment from the NCAA. According to Forde and Robinson:
NCAA member schools are not required to have their own drug-testing policy, though most choose to do so because of potential legal and disciplinary ramifications. The NCAA itself tests at all of its championship events, and will be conducting random testing of every team at every game in the NCAA basketball tournament that begins next week, but otherwise schools are left to police themselves for drugs on their own terms.
However, the NCAA alerts member schools that when setting internal testing procedures, the ability of the school to follow its own guidelines is subject to NCAA oversight and sanctioning. This is the regulation which puts Syracuse at risk for potentially failing to follow its own policies.
The school has since issued a statement that it has self-reported the issue to the NCAA and that no current players are involved in the investigation. Still, this is yet another distraction for a program that has already had to insulate itself from the allegations made against former assistant Bernie Fine and had to play several games without starting center Fab Melo due to unspecified academic issues. Syracuse is scheduled to play again on Thursday in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.