University of Georgia president Michael Adams wants the SEC to adopt a conference-wide substance-abuse policy so that athletes who violate it would get the same penalties at all schools.
“I think the conference ought to provide national leadership in that area,” Adams said Thursday.
But Adams, attending his final SEC meetings as UGA’s president, doesn’t expect it to happen this week.
“My position is that we’re all better off if there are some standard penalties,” Adams said, “and that we’re going to try and maintain a consistent policy at UGA … whether anybody else does or not.”
SEC coaches and athletic directors discussed a possible policy this week under which penalties for a first positive drug test would be the same at all conference schools and penalties for each subsequent positive test also would match from school to school.
“I think that would be healthy,” said Adams, who steps down as UGA president June 30, “but I don’t think we’re there yet as a group.”
Currently, individual schools determine the penalties for violations of their substance-abuse policies for athletes, potentially creating competitive disparities. Georgia’s penalties are among the strictest, according to studies, starting with a suspension of 10 percent of the season — one game in football — for a first violation.
“I’ve been in this long enough that I remember when there was a much harder drug-use prevalence in frankly the ’80s and through maybe the mid-’90s,” Adams said. “The last decade, the things have been usually regarding lesser drugs, without getting into details. But there does seem to have been some resurgence in the last couple years of drug use.
“I think it’s a question of health. I think it’s a question of what’s best for student-athletes, even more from where I sit than a question of law.”
Asked whether many of his colleagues around the conference agree with his position, Adams said: “Some agree and some don’t, which is often the case in here.”
He hopes the topic will be on the table during the presidents’ final meeting of the week Friday, but “I would be surprised if there was any action taken. … I don’t expect a vote on that this week.”
Adams recalled that the issue also came up during last year’s spring meetings without action being taken.
Financial report: Before the meetings adjourn, the SEC will announce how much money it will distribute to each member school from the league’s revenue-sharing plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
“The best report you’ll hear tomorrow from the commissioner,” Adams said Thursday, “is that the money’s good.”
Spurrier’s shot: South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier didn’t let the meetings pass without comment on the schedules of last season’s champions of the two SEC divisions.
“One thing we all have to realize: Nobody ever said it’s supposed to be fair,” Spurrier told reporters. “We all know last year Georgia did not play the top three on the Western side (in the regular season): Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M. But a lot of people don’t know Alabama didn’t play the top three on the Eastern side: us, Florida and Georgia.
“So those are the two that won the divisions. Scheduling! (Former Georgia Tech coach) Pepper Rodgers at one time said, ‘A coach is as good as his players and his schedule.’”
Slive’s message: Amid the considerable debate about whether to expand SEC football schedules from eight games to nine, Commissioner Mike Slive sent a clear message to coaches that non-conference schedules need to be strengthened.
Alabama athletic director Bill Battle agreed: “What I think is that we really need to play at least 10 good games.”