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Penalties for college athletes who test positive for marijuana differ between the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the Associated Press reports. NCAA players face a one-year suspension, while SEC players do not.

Players in the SEC get third, fourth or even fifth chances before they are removed from the team, while a positive drug test in the NCAA results in an automatic suspension, according to the AP, which examined drug policies at 11 SEC schools.

The NCAA found 22.6 percent of 20,474 student athletes who participated in an anonymous survey in 2009 admitted to using marijuana in the previous year—an increase from 21.2 percent in 2005.

In 2009-2010, 1,645 student athletes were tested, and 4.3 percent were found positive for marijuana, up from 1.6 percent the previous year.

There have been several recent highly publicized SEC drug cases. Louisiana State University player Tyrann Mathieu was suspended one game for violating the team’s drug policy last year, while Georgia All-American safety Bacarri Rambo could miss one or two games next season for failing a drug test.

At the University of Mississippi, a second positive drug test may result in the loss of free tickets for family, and/or community service. A third positive test requires that a player be suspended for three games or events. Subsequent violations call for an additional three-game suspension, although the athletic director and head coach can dismiss the athlete or decide not to renew the scholarship. The school’s new athletic director, Ross Bjork, says he hopes to strengthen the policy this summer.

According to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, a conference-wide standard has been discussed at least twice in the last 10 years, but league members have so far decided against it.


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