When a team suspends a player for violating its rules, the issue typically goes away. When a league imposes a suspension and the school helps the player during the appeals process, it can get ugly.
That's the situation we have with Ohio State sophomore defensive end Noah Spence, who was suspended last week by the Big Ten for three games for violating a league rule. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Spence tested positive for a banned dietary supplement, but Spence's father has told a very different story to WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, Pa.
According to Greg Spence, Noah tested positive for a small amount of the drug ecstasy, which Greg said Noah took unintentionally after it was slipped into a drink he received from people he didn't know at a recent party. The Big Ten initially suspended Noah for a full year before reducing the ban to three games following the family's first appeal. The Spences made a second appeal, which was denied, and Greg told WHTM that the family intends to sue the conference.
There seems to be some confusion about how ecstasy is classified and whether or not is should be considered a performance-enhancing drug. The NCAA classifies ecstasy as a stimulant on its banned substances list.
In its release announcing Spence's suspension, Ohio State noted that Spence's family disagreed with the Big Ten's decision and the punishment, and that Ohio State aided the family during the appeals process.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith declined to comment when reached via email today. Head coach Urban Meyer didn't say much about the situation last week before the Discover Orange Bowl.
Barring a change, Spence will have to sit out Ohio State's first two games against Navy and Virginia Tech next season after missing last week's Orange Bowl against Clemson. He led Ohio State with 8.5 sacks, ranked second on the team with 14.5 tackles for loss, and also recorded 52 total tackles, a forced fumble and four quarterback hurries this season.