The Yahoo! Sports tour of shame has returned, this time with a special report on the Syracuse basketball program and its failure to adhere to its own internal policy for punishing failed drug tests.
The report asserts that multiple Syracuse basketball players who tested positive for banned recreational substances since 2001 were permitted to continue participating in practices or playing in games when the program's own policy dictated otherwise:
Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men's basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.
Yahoo! obtained Syracuse's policy for dealing with student-athletes who fail drug tests, which dates back to the 2000-01 school year:
Each penalty called for the head coach to be notified and, in turn, alert a player's parents or guardians. After the first offense, an athlete was required to attend drug counseling and rehabilitation sessions. In addition, the policy called for the offending athlete to be tested on a regular basis for the remainder of his or her eligibility.
Penalties for a second positive test included automatic suspension from practice and playing, plus mandatory drug counseling, and a player could not return to the team without being cleared by a counselor as being drug free. For a third positive test, a player was subject to termination of eligibility and expulsion from school, barring special intervention by the athletic director.
The policy stated that after a third failed test, the athletic director had the option of extending a "one-time conditional grace period" in which the athlete was subject to specific terms and conditions for corrective action during a predetermined period of time.
Two sources told Yahoo! Sports that of the 10 players, at least one player continued to play after failing four tests and another player played after failing three.
Both the NCAA and Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim declined to comment when contacted by Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
This news is the latest in what has been a troubling season off-the-court for the SU basketball program. In November, assistant coach Bernie Fine was accused of sexual molestation by a former Orange ball boy and his brother. Fine was fired later that month when a recorded phone conversation between the accuser and Fine's wife in which she seemed to confirm the accusations was released to the public.
Syracuse is currently the No. 2 team in the country and just wrapped up the most successful regular season in program history. The Orange are 30-1 heading into their Big East Tournament opener on Thursday.
Wouldn't have minded this story dropping, say, last Friday night.