NCAA Slams Injured Basketball Player With Yearlong Ban for Smoking Weed Once

Albert Pena/Cal Sport Media/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


University of Michigan center Mitch McGary only played eight games last season before a back injury sent him to the bench. During the March Madness championship tournament—when the sidelined McGary could only cheer on his teammates—the NCAA chose him for a random drug test. McGary told Yahoo Sports he had passed five previous drug tests that season, but had smoked marijuana on one occasion with friends on campus before the tournament started. The punishment for his first offense? A year-long suspension from the NCAA.

Under ordinary circumstances, the University of Michigan penalty for a first failed drug test is a three-game suspension. But this test was conducted during the NCAA tournament, and in such cases, the NCAA metes out the punishment, hence the one-year suspension. (Under NCAA rules, a second failed test would lead to a lifetime ban that would mean the athlete can never play NCAA sports again.) That first-time penalty might seem harsh to many—and the NCAA agrees. It altered its rules to reduce the first-time penalty for a positive “street drug” test to a half-season suspension instead. But it made this change days after it had denied McGary’s appeal, and the new rule doesn’t take effect until August 1. So McGary is still subject to the older penalty the NCAA has conceded is unreasonable.

McGary, who was already on the fence about returning to school for his junior season, has now decided to leave Michigan for the NBA. As football players at Northwesten University prepare to vote on unionization—as part of a growing movement in college sports—the McGary case is a stark reminder of why some college athletes are demanding a seat at the bargaining table.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate