NCAA regulations drive Flagler’s commitment to drug-free athletic teams
By Michael O’Donnell
As Flagler College continues to make its transition from the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the athletes at Flagler College are subject to something they are not accustomed to — drug testing, which was done very little, if at all, in the NAIA.
“A lot of guys on the team are very cautious and know about the stuff they put in their body that you can get over the counter,” said Wes Burgess, a pitcher for Flagler College baseball team. “I think it is a very good thing that the NCAA is cracking down on this issue and trying to keep the games clean.”
As professional athletes from cycling, baseball, football and even surfing deal with a crack down on steroids and performance enhancing drugs, the collegiate athletics go through scheduled events with very little talk of steroid use among the athletes.
That is not to say that it does not happen, or players, coaches and officials have turned a blind eye, but where professional sports have delayed drug testing, the NCAA took measures into its own hands this past summer to ensure that NCAA athletics stay clean.
According to the NCAA Testing Consent form, the NCAA has initiated year-round drug testing at the time an intercollegiate squad reports for practice or the first date of competition.
For the first time, in all three divisions of the NCAA, all 65 basketball teams that make it to the post-season tournaments are assured of being tested. They have also expanded random screening into the summer months.
At the end of this year, the NCAA will have tested about three percent of all student-athletes through the Kansas City-based National Center for DrugFree Sport.
The NCAA has a $4 million budget for drug testing, but Sheri Holt, the compliance officer for Flagler College, is taking the drug testing a step further as the school looks to put in place their own drug testing along with the tests issued by the NCAA.
“We are in the process of putting a committee together to implement a drug testing program of our own at Flagler College,” Holt said. “We are getting representatives from student athletes, coaches and administration so the decisions can be made fairly. The biggest thing is that the policy has to be a sound process across the board. We have to decipher what is the policy for the first offense, the second, the third, so on. We are still in the process, however. It is a work in
process, but we are getting there.”
Even though using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs is on a downward trend, according to a survey done by the NCAA, there are still some overall trends that are disconcerting.
Among all athletes who reported using steroids, 24.1 percent said they were “certain” their coaches knew they were using a banned substance, and 17.8 percent said they got their steroids from a coach, athletic trainer or team physician.
Also, among all the sports with players using steroids, baseball was the highest with 2.3 percent of NCAA players admitting to using steroids.
With Flagler’s move to the NCAA, testing must begin. The question is, is Flagler College ready to accept the challenges of screening all their athletes?
Athletic trainer for Flagler College Jennifer Crozier is optimistic, and does not feel that this will be an issue now or any time soon.
“This is going to be a problem in any sport. An athlete is always going to want to get ahead and they will get the feeling that they need something to help them,” Crozier said.
“That is why the NCAA is so strict and consistent because it is going to be a growing problem, but as of right now, I do not foresee this being a problem. But anything is possible.”
The use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs may begin a lot sooner than college, however.
According to a University of Michigan study, steroid use among all high school-aged males is between six and 11 percent, and 2.5 percent among females.
According to Crozier, in order to curtail the usage of steroids and performance enhancing drugs, informing athletes and coaches in some sort of manner could be the best way to bring awareness to the players and coaches in the entire department.
“The best way to keep this problem from happening is educating the teams at team meetings and also showing them what happens when the substance or substances are used,” Crozier said. “Coaches as well need to be educated. They need to be aware of their players and what is going on with their team.”