School to up spending to $100K
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Days after drug charges were brought against two football players, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Wednesday the athletic department is expanding its drug testing.
"When there's more testing (there are) more opportunities for a guy to slip up," Tressel said at a news conference at the team's practice facility. "But that's a good thing. Because in my mind, the more highway patrolmen there are along the interstate, the more you're going to watch your speed."
Several football players, however, maintained they don't believe there is a pervasive problem with drug and alcohol abuse in the program. They said part of the reason the team members have been charged is they are under increased scrutiny because they are football players in a football-crazed city.
All athletes are currently tested once a year for drugs and the university will increase random tests and double the amount of money spent on the program to $100,000, athletic officials said. The tests also will be more comprehensive to detect more types of drugs, including anabolic steroids.
"The frequency of testing and the investment is going to be significantly much, much more," said Tressel, who told his team of the new policy on Tuesday night. "The amount of counseling and support service will be enhanced a great deal."
During a 60-minute roundtable with reporters, several senior football players said they were embarrassed by the program's sullied reputation due to disciplinary and legal problems.
In the span of eight days earlier this month, backup kicker Jonathan Skeete was charged with marijuana trafficking and running back Erik Haw was cited after a university police officer said he saw him smoking a marijuana cigarette while standing outside a dormitory. Last weekend, defensive lineman Tim Schafer was charged with disorderly conduct after police said they twice had to break up early morning fights between him and another man.
"Some of the things going on in the program, they can't go on any longer," offensive lineman Rob Sims said.
Vince O'Brien, a trainer with the men's basketball program, is heading up the new expanded drug and alcohol testing program at Ohio State.
"This was in the works," he said. "I don't want anybody to think it's a knee-jerk reaction to anything that's happened in the last two weeks. This is something that's ongoing."
Gene Smith did not speak at the news conference, but O'Brien said Ohio State's new athletic director was the driving force behind the new policy.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press