Despite the delay from the NCAA discovering that its own investigators violated NCAA procedure in investigating Miami’s recruiting and extra benefits scandal, that case looks to be headed back on track over the next couple of weeks. But in the meantime, another story broke involving Miami and possible NCAA rules violations. The story involves the connections between Miami baseball players, a Miami strength and conditioning coach, and a South Florida anti-aging clinic that may be providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes.
Details about exactly what happened involving the strength coach and Miami players are scarce, so let us assume a worst-case scenario: that the strength coach either provided performance-enhancing drugs from the clinic to Miami baseball players or that the coach put players in touch with the clinic so they could obtain PEDs themselves.
Student-athletes only lose eligibility if they test positive in an NCAA-administered drug test. However, the school has a responsibility if it ever knows that an athlete is taking a banned substance:
Bylaw 10.2 – Knowledge of Use of Banned Drugs.
A member institution’s athletics department staff members or others employed by the intercollegiate athletics program who have knowledge of a student-athlete’s use at any time of a substance on the list of banned drugs, as set forth in Bylaw 184.108.40.206, shall follow institutional procedures dealing with drug abuse or shall be subject to disciplinary or corrective action as set forth in Bylaw 19.5.
Normally this applies to how institutions handle their own drug-testing program. But if a staff member was actually providing the drugs or arranging for the athletes to receive the drugs, he would likely be deemed to have knowledge of their use. That means Miami would have failed to follow their institutional procedures, which Bylaw 10.2 turns into an NCAA violation.
There is also a provision in Bylaw 10.1, the general ethical conduct bylaw, regarding a staff member providing banned substances to athletes:
Bylaw 10.1 – Unethical Conduct.
Unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member, which includes any individual who performs work for the institution or the athletics department even if he or she does not receive compensation for such work, may include, but is not limited to, the following:
(f) Knowing involvement in providing a banned substance or impermissible supplement to student-athletes, or knowingly providing medications to student-athletes contrary to medical licensure, commonly accepted standards of care in sports medicine practice, or state and federal law. This provision shall not apply to banned substances for which the student-athlete has received a medical exception per Bylaw 220.127.116.11; however, the substance must be provided in accordance with medical licensure, commonly accepted standards of care and state or federal law.
If this went on for an extended period of time and involved a number of athletes, there is a good chance Miami would be facing another major violation. Rather than delaying the current Miami case any more, the NCAA would treat a potential PED-related major violation as a separate, but related case. The Committee on Infractions did something similar recently with Tennessee’s football program.