At least one-third of the Power Five conference schools are not punishing athletes as harshly as they were 10 years ago for testing positive for marijuana and other so-called recreational drugs, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.
The NCAA last year cut in half the penalty for athletes who fail screenings for substances like marijuana at its championship events, and its chief medical officer is pushing for college sports' governing body to get out of the business of testing for rec drugs altogether. The AP found that some of the nation's biggest universities, from Oregon to Auburn, have already eased their punishments as society's views on marijuana use have changed. Marijuana use among U.S. adults has doubled over a decade, according to government surveys, and recreational use is now legal in four states.
The AP analyzed policies for 57 of the 65 schools in the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences, plus Notre Dame.
Of the 57 schools, 23 since 2005 have either reduced penalties or allowed an athlete to test positive more times before being suspended or dismissed. Ten schools have separate, less stringent policies addressing only marijuana infractions.
According to AP, Colorado's policy is unchanged: 20 percent season suspension for a second failed test; one-year suspension after a third.
In the Pac-12, five schools do not suspend athletes for as long as they once did. At Utah, for example, a third failed test used to mean dismissal; now it's a half-season suspension.
"It's a moving target, and we have to find that balance between being too punitive and not punitive enough, and making sure that we help people that have a problem," Utah athletic director Chris Hill said.