The Oregon football team has been featured in an ESPN Magazine expose that was published online Wednesday morning. The expose reports the wide-spread use of marijuana among Oregon's football team and across the country in college and in the National Football League.
ESPN Magazine interviewed 19 former or current Oregon players and officials who said that an estimated 40 to 60 percent of the Oregon football team smoked marijuana.
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens issued a statement Wednesday morning following the release of the article.
“Student-athlete welfare is of the utmost importance to the University of Oregon. Similar to many college campuses wrestling with the same issue, the University of Oregon actively works to address potential use of any illegal substance through a combination of education, prevention and enforcement activities.
“Student-athletes at the University of Oregon are tested for illegal substances to the full extent possible under existing Oregon state law, which prohibits random testing. We continue to work diligently to educate our student-athletes on the harmful impact of illegal substances. In addition, we have articulated our illegal substances policy to our student-athletes and have clearly defined sanctions for a positive test.”
Former Oregon running back Ruben Droughns said the team would take part in large groups to smoke weed and that it was a way for the team to grow closer. "In a weird way, it helps you bond," Droughns told ESPN.
Former Oregon offensive linemen Fenuki Topou told ESPN that while he never smoked he understood why players did. "Let's be honest, when you're bored, it's not like you're going to read a book," he told ESPN.
Another former Duck, Akili Smith, and other players spoke of a team code or self-policing that went on. "Some guys who use marijuana go out and ball because they're relaxed," says Akili Smith to ESPN, "but if it affects his play, you sit him down and tell him, 'Yo, it's not for you.'"
A current player told ESPN that same policy of handling matters in-house exists today.
When Oregon head coach Chip Kelly became the face of the program three years ago current players tell ESPN that the Kelly-era has taken a stricter stance on smoking weed.
"I've heard weed was bigger before I got there," says a Duck who played or plays for Kelly to ESPN, "but Chip cracked down on that. He'll actually attend classes with guys. If you miss a study hall, he'll drug-test you."
Oregon also released their policy on testing athletes which permits testing by urinalysis but only on a reasonable suspicion of a player and drug use. Reasonable suspicion shall not mean a mere "hunch" or "intuition". It shall in stead be based upon a specific event or occurrence which has led to the belief that a student-athlete has used any drugs and which could have or could have had an effect during a period of organized practice, conditioning, or competition or during a period of counseling for substance abuse.
If a player is tests positive for drug use and has no prior history he will receive counseling and education about substance abuse while also having a mandatory assessment by a psychologist to discern the severity of the student athlete's substance use problem and other factors that may influence their recovery.
A second positive test will require the player to sign a behavior modification contract drafted by the director of athletic medicine. This contract will define behavior expectations for the student athlete and the consequences for noncompliance.
A third positive test and the athlete will be immediately ineligible for competition. They will remain ineligible until they have missed the equivalent of 50 percent of the season. If necessary ineligibility will carry over into post-season play. It will also carry over the next season if the full time isn't completed.
A fourth positive test will result in the student athlete being dismissed from the team and lose all grant-in-aid support, beginning with the next academic term.