Drugs are a serious issue in college athletics. Scarcely a school has escaped without some problem, ranging all the way to overdose deaths. Even Brigham Young University, which has one of the strictest programs in the country, found several football players abusing pain killers.
That being the case, it's hard to understand why a California judge this week declared the National Collegiate Athletic Association's drug-testing program unconstitutional.It's equally hard to understand why Stanford University, which brought the lawsuit, would oppose such testing. Stanford was the first school in the nation to seek an injunction against drug testing.
While the ruling by California Superior Court Judge Conrad Rushing applies only to Stanford, it does undermine the NCAA drug test rule. A similar lawsuit in Seattle resulted in a federal court ruling earlier this year that upheld the NCAA testing program.
Judge Rushing issued a preliminary injunction last October against the drug testing program, except for football and men's basketball, saying there was enough evidence in those sports of drug use to warrant such testing.
So why did he extend the ban now to all sports?
The reasons appear peculiar. For example, the judge ruled that if drug use did not enhance athletic performance, the NCAA had no grounds to test for drugs. Does that mean that if an athlete is using cocaine or heroin, it's no business of the NCAA, simply because those drugs would not enhance the athlete's performance? That's ridiculous.
So is the court's finding that protecting the health and safety of athletes "is not a sufficient interest to justify drug testing."
Tell that to the family of Len Bias, the University of Maryland basketball star who died of a cocaine overdose a couple of years ago.
Athletes are role models, heroes for other young people. They also have an obligation to the team and the school for whom they play. Most are on scholarships, with someone else paying their way.
The motto, "Just say no!" means "say no" to drugs, not to the testing for drugs.