Marijuana use increases among athletes

Sarah White

A recent drug bust on the TCU campus, as well as a study released by representatives of the National Collegiate Athletics Association, could indicate that marijuana use among college student-athletes is increasing.

A total of 20,474 student athletes participated in an anonymous survey released by the NCAA in January. The report indicated that 22.6 percent of collegiate student-athletes admitted in 2009 to having used marijuana over the past year. This indicates that marijuana use among NCAA collegiate athletes has increased 1.4 percent since 2005.

After a six month police sting, four members of the TCU football team were arrested Feb. 15 on suspicion of possessing and dealing marijuana and other drugs.

Helen Tau, president of the Texas Athletics Council, said she is concerned UT athletes could potentially be caught using drugs in a situation similar to the Feb. 15 drug busts that occurred on the TCU campus, but is not surprised to find out that more athletes have begun smoking marijuana.

“In my opinion, the overall trend of marijuana use in the entire population is increasing, therefore, I don’t believe it would be any different in collegiate athletes,” said Tau, a physical culture and sports junior. “I think it has the potential to be a big problem.”

Nick Voinis, spokesman for Longhorn athletics, said he believes the UT drug testing policy is an effective way of preventing drug use amongst UT athletes. According to the Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Manual, student-athletes must undergo mandatory drug screenings through urine analyses and are tested for all of the substances listed as “banned drug classes.”

“We continually educate our student-athletes on the physical, psychological, social and legal consequences of substance abuse,” Voinis said. “Our student-athletes must abide by all University, Big 12 Conference and NCAA policies and procedures relative to drug testing.”

Tau said she is skeptical of the effectiveness of drug testing policies at UT and other institutions. She said she thinks there are always ways to improve upon a drug testing system.

“[Solving this problem will take] the coaches and players all coming together to solve this situation,” Tau said. “I feel like they have the knowledge of what is going on. Since they are close with each other, they would have the most influence.”

However, Tau said marijuana use by athletes will not affect her love for UT athletics.

“This wouldn’t change the way I think of UT sports,” Tau said. “It would be disappointing if the same thing that happened at TCU happened here. But UT has such a strong tradition that it won’t affect me.”