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UT drug problems need disclosure, action

Posted Sunday, November 4, 2007, at 8:37 AM

What did LaMarcus Coker do to get himself kicked off the University of Tennessee football team?

Coach Philip Fulmer isn't talking, although the Knoxville News-Sentinel and other sources indicate Coker failed a drug test.

Wonder if Coker had any connections with Duke Crews, the UT men's basketball player who was suspended a few weeks ago?

Crews wasn't charged, but Knoxville media reported a UT police report indicated two small bags of what were suspected to be marijuana were found in his dorm room shortly before his suspension.

Fulmer rarely explains reasons behind disciplinary actions or dismissals.

But Coker is an adult, attending a state-funded school.

Some might argue that Coker's scholarship is paid for by donations and athletic department revenue instead of taxpayers. But the donations and revenue are still being funneled through a public institution.

So it's the people's right to know directly from Fulmer what Coker did.

Fulmer's got enough problems going on these days without adding withholding information from the public.

And one of those problems " involving not only Fulmer, but the entire UT athletic department " is that Vols in any sport are allowed four negative drug tests before dismissal.

Four. And the number was recently reduced from five.

Even the "three strikes, you're out" system should be too much for Vol athletes. Those in the general public would face more serious punishment after so many violations.

And it appears obvious that anyone with three or four drug violations in the relatively short time spent in college is an addict.

Looks like there's a ready-made clientele for drug dealers at UT. It's time for someone higher up than the athletic department to step in with much harsher punishments.

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I agree with all of your comments except Fulmer having to disclose what the player did. The second offense should be enough, allowing for one youthful mistake.

I do not think the level of proof for Fulmer is as stringent as for a court conviction and therefore they are denied due process, before they are labeled a drug addict.

In my opinion, he is treating these athletes to a level of privacy that I believe most people deserve until they are proven guilty.

We had another blog that discussed DUI inaccuracies in testing equipment. I would hate to be labeled by accusation when innocent. I would hate for my child to be labeled for two bags of what "appears" to be something.

If an athlete is convicted of use or possession, their name is free game. I do not know what good it will do for me or the public to know it, but it is public knowledge.

If I am dismissed from the program because of usage or possession, I have paid a dear price for my mistakes. Throwing my name to the public is not going to help me, but it will label me and possibly give me more reason to continue my downward spiral.

I think Phillip Fulmer is being a decent person. Expulsion should be tightened to the second offense, but don't put another nail in someone's coffin, especially without due process of law.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Nov 4, 2007, at 11:01 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.