College Player Declares for NBA Because of Weed

Michigan's Mitch McGary looks at his phone while a teammate is being interviewed in the locker room after an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game against Kentucky Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 75-72 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michigan's Mitch McGary looks at his phone while a teammate is being interviewed in the locker room after an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game against Kentucky Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 75-72 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP

Not assured of being a top NBA draft pick but good enough to know he’d be selected, University of Michigan center Mitch McGary faced a tough decision recently as to whether he should forgo his final two years of college eligibility. The NCAA made that decision easy for McGary, handing him a year-long suspension for failing a drug test and forcing his hand into declaring for the draft.

McGary’s crime? Smoking weed, which he claims he did one time this season while recovering from a back injury. From Yahoo! Sports:

One night in mid-March, with the NCAA tournament about to begin without him, McGary was hanging out with a group of friends at Michigan. He had a few drinks. Someone offered some marijuana -- a common occurrence, he said, on campus. "I always turned it down," McGary told Yahoo Sports. "But that night I didn't."

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McGary was able to get healthy enough to dress for the Wolverines’ Sweet 16 game against Tennessee, but he was never going to play. So it came as a suprise when an NCAA official selected him for a random drug test. A week later, he was called into a meeting with Michigan coach John Beilein and athletic director Dave Brandon, who told him he had failed the test. The automatic NCAA penalty for such an offense was a one-year suspension. More from Yahoo!

McGary said he passed eight drug tests administered by Michigan over his two years in Ann Arbor, including five this year despite his limited play. "[That's why] this was a surprise," said Beilein. "This is not Mitch McGary. Not the one I know."

If you think a year seems like a long time for smoking a little weed, the NCAA agrees with you. On April 15, the NCAA changed its policy and lowered the suspension to half a season.

“To all the Michigan fans out there, ‘I’m sorry,’” McGary told Yahoo!. “I did not want to end it this way. Basically, I just messed up.”

If McGary had failed a University of Michigan drug test, his penalty as a first-time offender would have been a suspension for 10 percent of the regular season.