Yesterday, the LSU student newspaper Daily Revielle reported that three key players for the football team faced suspension for Saturday’s upcoming game against Auburn. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, Running Back Spencer Ware and Defensive Back Tharold Simon reportedly tested positive for banned substances, according to the paper’s sources.
Nicknamed the “Honey Badger,” Tyrann Mathieu is the highest profile member of the three. He has garnered some Heisman Trophy discussion as the result of his game impacting play on defense and special teams.
IBCR has learned that according to the LSU 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook, suspension of one or more games for the first violation of the school’s substance abuse policy is the discretion of the athletics and coaching staff.
However, if a second violation is assessed, there is a mandatory minimum suspension of 15% of the countable contests and/or 30 days from the date the student-athlete was notified of the violation.
The information was provided by two former LSU student-athletes, one of whom provided a copy of the 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook. A snapshot of page 43 of that manual appears below. Note that the coaching and athletic staff still have some leeway in determining how the punishment is administered.
A 15% suspension of a 12-game “countable contest” season would result in a two game suspension, but the manual does not require the two games to be consecutive. Further, the manual also gives the staff the discretion to increase (but not decrease) the penalties. This means that players serving a two-game suspension could be ready for the trip to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa in a nationally anticipated matchup on November 5. Or, Head Coach Les Miles could determine that circumstances dictate a harsher penalty.
Miles would neither confirm nor deny the suspensions during yesterday evening’s regularly scheduled press conference, and deflected numerous questions regarding drug testing, depth chart issues and school policy.
One of the two former student-athletes responding via email expressed regret and support of Coach Miles. “This has to be exasperating for him. He has always been a tough disciplinarian and doesn’t think twice about handing out punishment. These kinds of things hurt him to the core because they hurt the team and nothing means more to him than the well being of the team.”
Miles has established a track record for maintaining team discipline and unity despite off-the-field distractions but the 2011 season has seen an unusual rash of issues, ranging for Quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s bar fight episode to the suspension of a player for possibly interfering with an NCAA investigation.