UO to lose federal funding for leaking student-athlete drug test results

1/10/2015 update: UO to lose federal funding for leaking student-athlete drug test results:

Just kidding. While Rob Mullens argued he couldn’t tell the campus about the basketball rape allegations because of federal student privacy laws – even with names redacted – apparently he’s got no problem plastering the names of the players who failed a pot test all over the internet, with serious damage to their career prospects.

So why isn’t it a FERPA and HIPPA violation for the athletic department to publicize drug test results?

1/9/2015: Are Randy Geller and Rob Mullens to blame for Darren Carrington missing the big game?

Apparently UO student-athlete Darren Carrington has tested positive for marijuana, and the NCAA has suspended him from Monday’s big game.

You might ask why test Duck pee for pot? It’s not a “performance enhancing” drug. The IOC, for example, recently raised their testing threshold to 10x the previous level. It’s legal or nearly legal in most of the US, it will soon be legal in Oregon, and the 4th Amendment could not be clearer:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

These drug tests are all about public relations. Back in August 2011, Duck cornerback Cliff Harris was busted for driving 118 MPH after “we smoked it all”. In April 2012, ESPN published a story on widespread weed use by Duck athletes. Bad publicity. At the time UO tested for performance enhancing drugs, but not pot.

So in September 2012, Duck athletic director Rob Mullens and UO General Counsel Randy Geller snuck through an Oregon Administrative Rule change, and began random testing of his players for marijuana use. The faculty, led by Senate President (and noted composer) Rob Kyr and IAC Chair (and noted music professor) Brian McWhorter fought back against this new policy and the lack of due process in adopting it. General Counsel Randy Geller responded with a nutso email, with an implicit threat of a defamation lawsuit:

Dear [Senate President Rob Kyr] and [IAC Chair Brian McWhorter]:

I received your email of July 24, 2012, requesting a delay in the public hearing scheduled for August 23rd, 2012. The hearing will be rescheduled for September 13, 2012. Written comments will be accepted until noon on September 14, 2012. We will similarly postpone the date the rule will be filed with the Secretary of State and become final. The rule will be filed on September 21, 2012.

Your allegations about the University’s rulemaking processes are offensive and false , as are the comments made publicly by members of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. I ask that you apologize in writing to President Berdahl, Rob Mullens, and me. I also ask that you censure the members of the IAC who have published offensive and defamatory comments.

Randolph Geller, General Counsel, University of Oregon

The Senate then made Gottfredson come to the Senate and explain what was going on. Geller refused to show. Gottfredson claimed the new random drug testing policy was not an academic matter – even though the OAR itself states:

(3) Illicit Substances. If the student-athlete tests positive for the use of prohibitedIllicit Substances, the sanctions will be consistent with the sanctions listed in this subsection. These sanctions define the least severe sanctions that may be taken after each positive test. Notwithstanding the sanctions outlined in this subsection, if thought appropriate, a student- athlete may be dismissed from the team and lose all grant-in-aid after a single positive test.

There was more back and forth, but eventually Mullens and Geller got the policy they wanted. Too bad.

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15 Responses to UO to lose federal funding for leaking student-athlete drug test results

  1. Sports Fan says:

    Calling it now — if this poor kid’s phone isn’t blowing up with anonymous death threats already, it will be once Oregon loses the NCG for any number of reasons.

    Also, word in low places is that Oregon football is using street agents to provide recruits again. You know, guys like Will Lyles…

    • uomatters says:

      Definition of “street agent”: A person who violates the NCAA rule that only white people can make money off college football.

    • charlie says:

      They paying them outta the General Fund? Just askin….

      • Working GTF says:

        Most NCAA coaches in revenue sports have a discretionary recruiting stipend of some sort or another. Legal recruiting expenses come from this fund.

        But much of the money spent on recruiting, especially in NCAAFB & NCAAMBB, is dark money, money routed through boosters to “scouts” and their ilk. It’s gross.

        There are a couple of excellent docs that lay some of this out, the first is the ESPN 30-for-30 on the collapse of the SMU FB program, who were given the so-called death penalty for doing what nearly every major college program does nowadays. The other is called “Schooled: The Price of College Sports.”

        Taylor Branch’s “The Shame of College Sports” is also an informative read: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/308643/

  2. Look for Real News says:

    This was a NCAA called for drug test — just like there is randomly for other sports like track, baseball, softball, basketball. Both Carrington and Forde are idiots to have put themselves at risk for this kind of a game, but this was not a result of any UO plot. Move on. Find some real news…in fact, perhaps as a New Years resolution you could look for some positive news in things happening on campus. There are things — bring those out.

    • UO Grad Student says:

      Yup, I’m a former college athlete. Going into any NCAA-sanctioned tournament you always knew it was more than a distinct possibility you’d be tested if you went far enough. While MJ may be becoming decriminalized in many states, the NCAA bans its use as a condition of participating in their sports programs. All NCAA college athletes have multiple meetings and sign many papers about the conditions of their permission to play.

      So unless it turns out that this was an in-house UO driven drug test (why in god’s name would we choose to do that before the finals?), we can’t pin this one on anyone at UO besides the athletes who made a really risky choice that didn’t pay off for them.

      • uomatters says:

        Thanks – did the NCAA or your college make you sign FERPA/HIPPA releases? I am wondering how it is OK for the Ducks to make these sorts of records public.

        • UO Grad Student says:

          Oh boy, that’s going back over a decade. I don’t remember whether we signed any waivers or not regarding test results becoming public, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it exists- just another incentive for student athletes not to party in season if their names will hit the papers for doing it.

          My cursory google search says that pre-participation forms, required likely for DIII and up, include a HIPAA waiver and consent to drug testing.

  3. It was an NCAA-administered drug test, something they do in every NCAA sport during the postseason. Oregon was able to appeal Carrington’s eligibility to the NCAA and was denied.

    NCAA athletes are required to sign HIPAA waivers that are school-specific.

  4. Working GTF says:

    I suspect the rationale the admin will provide is that the details of basketball players’ punishment(s) pertained to their status as students, and a failed drug test only results in punishment that pertains to the players status as an athlete. So in the first case, they’d claim they can’t violate FERPA and comment on their status as a student, in the second, there’s no FERPA risk because Carrington and Forde aren’t being expelled, so their status as a UO student is unaffected.

    Not that I buy such a claim, but this admin seems excel at making a specious distinction when convenient for them to do so.

    • just different says:

      If UO had any sort of liability here, trust me–those drug tests would magically become FERPA-protected. UO takes a ludicrously broad interpretation of FERPA whenever it suits them, for reasons having nothing to do with academic privacy.

  5. Leporello says:

    This is very sad for Mr. Carrington. I want to keep in mind that he is a very young man. These kind of mistakes are par for the course, so matter what his athletic development may be. Missing the biggest game of his life, so far, should probably suffice to get his attention. I, for one, hope that’s as far as his personal consequences go.

  6. Anas Clypeata says:

    “So why isn’t it a FERPA and HIPPA violation for the athletic department to publicize drug test results?”

    Um, because university property is not subject to FERPA or HIPPA?

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