Lafayette College is not the only school with alcohol policies imposed on athletes.
“There is no question that across this country there is a serious issue with alcohol and alcohol abuse on college campuses,” Lafayette Athletic Director Bruce McCutcheon said. “We are not any different than anybody else in terms of that.”
Changes have been made to the controversial athletics alcohol policy at Lafayette, including reinstatement of the Good Samaritan Policy for athletes. However, there are still penalties for underage consumption if the Good Samaritan rule has not been invoked. For the first offense, offending athletes will be subject a suspension of 20 percent of the competition dates in their sport’s championship season. Second-time offenders lose 40 percent of their championship season, and third-time offenders are suspended from sports for 365 days and lose athletic financial aid.
Lehigh University’s alcohol policy for athletes is much more lenient.
First-time offenders will be issued a warning from the athletics department, or, if caught drinking while travelling for sports events, be put on probation for “two competitive sport seasons” and/or be suspended for “a minimum of 20% of the scheduled contests in that sport.” The second time a student gets caught violating the policy, he or she gets put probation for a minimum one sports season and/or gets suspended for 10% of the season. If a student-athlete gets caught drinking a third time, he or she will be put on probation for a minimum of two sports seasons and/or suspended a period of time determined by the sports team, or, if no conclusion is made, eight seasons. The student’s financial aid has the option of being reevaluated, along with a possible reevaluation of the living arrangements given by the university to the student-athlete.
“If we can find ways to help students understand the importance of responsible decision making to their health, to the quality of their educational experience, and, in the case of student athletes, to the quality of their athletic performance,” Lehigh Athletic Director Joe Sterrett said. “If students could understand those things a little bit better, and make smart choices, then we’re all well served.”
Sterrett views the athletic department’s policies on alcohol at Lehigh as “educational,” until a student demonstrates a pattern of misbehavior. At that point, “the sanction will naturally become less educational, and more punitive, because the premise is they aren’t learning.”
At Bucknell University, student athletes mostly adhere to the overall Code of Student Conduct. Still, coaches can administer specific team rules, as long as they do not conflict with those of the Code of Student Conduct.
“In order to be afforded the privilege of participating and competing in our varsity programs, each student-athlete has responsibilities and program expectations that they must effectively maintain,” Bucknell Athletic Director John Hardt wrote in an email. “In this regard, our Bucknell student-athletes are held accountable to the provisions of Bucknell’s Code of Student Conduct.”
Among these provisions in the Code of Student Conduct at Bucknell is the Good Samaritan Law, similar to Lafayette’s policy, which applies to athletes and students equally.
Many colleges in the Patriot League have similar alcohol policies, all put in place to reflect the ideals of their communities. However, not every school in the country ascribes to these standards.
“Different places have different situations,” McCutcheon said.
One of the most unique situations is at Provo, Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints. According to the BYU honor code on the official school website, the university prohibits all students, including athletes, from using alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and other substances. Students must also adhere to strict personal grooming standards among other rules.
BYU Athletic Communications Office Manager Jenny Wheeler, who handles press inquiries, did not respond after repeated phone calls.
According to the BYU Athletics Compliance Handbook, the university relies on a policy of self-reporting.
“BYU’s policy is to conduct its athletics program in full compliance with all NCAA and [Mountain West Conference] MWC rules and regulations,” reads the policy in the handbook. Employees are expected to be committed to this policy and are to report any situations or activities that may represent violations of NCAA, MWC, or University rules.”
In March 2011, BYU basketball player Brandon Davies was dismissed from the team for having premarital sex with his girlfriend, a direct violation of the university honor code. He admitted to having intercourse out of wedlock to BYU officials. He was ultimately reinstated to the team and is now playing in the NBA.
More recently, BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley was suspended for five games by the university for drinking and partying in Las Vegas.
“Everyone has their own take on how to address this, so people have multiple different levels and sanctions that go along with those levels,” McCutcheon said.