BT teams differ on drug policies, penalties

The issue of drug testing in college football hit home in the Big Ten last week as Iowa held an odd news conference to explain its drug testing program in the wake of star receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' arrest on several drug charges.

Although Iowa admitted to finding some "flaws and inconsistencies" within its testing program, we also learned that Iowa does some extensive testing and hands down standard penalties on those who test positive.

AOL FanHouse's Brett McMurphy took things a step further and investigated how football programs from AQ conferences handle discipline for those testing positive for street and recreational drugs. Penalties for those testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs are the same for any NCAA school: a first positive test is a one-year suspension; a second positive test ends a student-athlete's NCAA eligibility for the remainder of his career.

Ten of the Big Ten institutions (plus future league member Nebraska) are included in the piece. As a private institution, Northwestern isn't required to respond to a public records request to provide its drug policy.

Here's how the Big Ten penalties shake out (numbers in parentheses indicate first, second, third and fourth positive tests, followed by the playing-time penalty):

Illinois: (1) none; (2) 1/12th of regular-season games; (3) 1/4th of regular season games; (4) one year.

Indiana: (1) none; (2) one game; (3) dismissal.

Iowa: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) dismissal.

Michigan: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) one year.

Michigan State: (1) none; (2) 30 days; (3) one year.

Minnesota: (1) none; (2) 20 percent of games; (3) one year.

Nebraska: (1) none; (2) suspension determined by head coach; (3) dismissal.

Ohio State: (1) none; (2) two weeks; (3) one year.

Penn State: (1) none; (2) seven days; (3) one year; (4) dismissal.

Purdue: (1) none; (2) none; (3) 10 percent of games; (4) "may be dismissed" with athletic director making decision.

Wisconsin: (1) none; (2) 30 days; (3) dismissal.

It's interesting to see the slight differences between the policies, especially which schools have a definitive dismissal penalty and which don't. Six schools from AQ conferences suspend players for their first positive drug test, but none come from the Big Ten.

Purdue is one of four teams from AQ conferences that doesn't hand down a playing-time penalty for the second positive drug test.

A few Big Ten-related nuggets from the FanHouse story:

  • At Purdue and UCLA, a student-athlete does not miss any games after two positive tests and only misses one game for a third positive test. By comparison, a student-athlete at 31 of the 60 schools is dismissed from the football program for a third positive test. Purdue also offers this caveat: If a student-athlete goes 18 months since his last positive test, he may revert back to his previous number of positive tests -- in essence earning up to five chances before dismissal.

  • At Florida, Illinois, Purdue and UCLA, student-athletes at those respective schools may have up to five positive drug tests before being dismissed. Those are easily the nation's most lenient policies, at least as far as allowing a student-athlete the most chances.

  • Iowa, which recently admitted some flaws in its drug testing procedures in that a number of student-athletes likely had "gotten around the tests," actually has one of the nation's most common substance abuse policies: no games are missed for a first positive, 10 percent of games suspended for a second positive and dismissal for a third positive.

Very interesting stuff. Your thoughts?