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."
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.