ASU Football Puts Focus on Drug Testing

The discipline you’ve seen this season with Arizona State football doesn’t end on the playing field. First-year coach Todd Graham makes sure it blankets all areas, and that includes testing for street and performance-enhancing drugs.

Per school policy, ASU randomly drug tests its student-athletes 12 months a year, but the athletic department leaves it up to each coach to decide whether every player on the roster should be tested. Upon his arrival, Graham decided to test everyone.

“Many of our guys want to play in the NFL, so how does the NFL test?” Graham said. “Well, they test everybody, so that’s what we do. We test every person in the program and we do it about every eight weeks. I think it shows our kids we care about them, and we care about them more than just football. It’s something I think is very, very important.”

College drug-testing has been in the news lately. This month Oregon implemented random drug testing after an April report in ESPN The Magazine estimated that 40 to 60 percent of the football team smoked marijuana. In August, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, was dismissed from the team for reportedly violating the school’s substance-abuse policy.

Officials at ASU and the University of Arizona insist they have strong drug-testing policies in place that both educate and help student-athletes who test positive. It also holds them accountable. Gretchen Bouton, a UA compliance coordinator of eligibility, had a meeting scheduled Tuesday to discuss small changes — among them, a dean of students will be made aware of future positive tests — to the school’s policy. She also said Oregon contacted the university to learn more about the Wildcats’ program.

At ASU, athletes are tested randomly throughout the year, but coaches can request having their entire teams tested, as Graham did with football. Per department policy, the first positive test results in assistance and education. According to Dawn Rogers, a senior associate athletic director, a treatment team comprised of medical professionals meets with the student-athlete to assess the situation. The student-athlete also likely will face disciplinary action from his coach and will undergo testing on a more frequent basis.