AD Jay Jacobs sends letter to Auburn family in response to ESPN - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

AD Jay Jacobs sends letter to Auburn family in response to ESPN "E:60" report

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Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs. (abc3340.com) Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs. (abc3340.com)

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs sent a letter to the Auburn family Thursday night in response to an ESPN "E:60" report of a cover-up of failed drug tests by football players under former head coach Gene Chizik.

The report was based on an interview with former player Dakota Mosley, who was dismissed from the team in 2011 following his arrest in connection to a home invasion involving three other former players --Antonio Goodwin, Mike McNeil and Shawn Kitchens. Goodwin was convicted of first-degree robbery on June 19, 2012 and is currently serving a 15-year sentence in an Alabama prison.

McNeil appeared in court in Lee County for a status hearing today where Circuit Court Judge Christopher Hughes ordered the trial to proceed on two-counts of first-degree robbery.

Mosley said in the interview that he was never punished by Auburn coaches or the administration after failing "six or seven" drug tests for synthetic marijuana, more commonly known as "spice." At the time of the failed tests, spice was legal in the state of Alabama and was not included in school's list of banned substances for student-athletes.

Jacobs refutes the notion that the university attempted to conceal the results of the drug tests and says in the letter that the Tigers' athletic department was aggressive in its response to the "growing threat of synthetic marijuana."

Jacobs also released a statement earlier on Thursday in response to a roopstigo.com report by Selena Roberts that alleges several NCAA violations including paying cash to players, grade-changing and recruiting violations during Auburn's 2010 BCS National Championship season.

Read:  Jay Jacobs says school will look into allegations

Jay Jacobs' letter to the Auburn Family:


Dear Auburn Family,

You may have seen a story on ESPN.com this evening about the former Auburn football players who were dismissed two years ago for their involvement in an armed robbery.

The story chronicles the former players' use of synthetic marijuana, which the defendants in the robbery case have used as their primary defense in court. We expect another, more in-depth story to appear in an upcoming print edition of ESPN The Magazine.

We cooperated with ESPN in the story because of how appropriately and aggressively the Auburn Athletics Department and the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics acted in response to the growing threat of synthetic marijuana during the 2010-2011 academic year.

As a father of three, I sympathize with the parents of the young men who face prison sentences for their alleged involvement in the armed robbery. While they have a right to speak out, I have an obligation to share the facts, which clearly show Auburn Athletics tried to help these former student-athletes.

Some of the statements made in the story are wrong and need to be corrected, while others need to be put into proper context. One player interviewed by ESPN, for example, alleges that up to half of the 2010 football team was using synthetic marijuana. It's hard to be more wrong than that. The facts and our drug testing results simply do not support such a claim.

A parent interviewed told ESPN they would have done more to help her son had we done more to let her know he was in trouble. That is incorrect. The facts demonstrate that our coaches and Sports Medicine professionals had regular communication with the parents and that every effort was made to warn our student-athletes about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.

Allow me to share with you the facts that we provided to the reporter. Some of them were included in the initial story. Some were not.

• Auburn Athletics began testing for synthetic marijuana three days after our testing company made a test available. A test became available on Jan. 24, 2011, and Auburn added the test to its panel on Jan. 27, 2011.

• Since our drug testing policy was amended to include synthetic marijuana as a banned substance, there have been three positive tests for the drug out of more than 2,500 drug tests administered. Those three individuals are no longer on Auburn Athletics rosters.

• As soon as our Director of Sports Medicine was aware that synthetic marijuana was a drug readily available in convenience stores in the fall of 2010, Auburn Athletics contacted our drug testing company to inquire about whether they had a test for synthetic marijuana and when one would be made available. They did not have a test at the time.

At the same time, our Director of Sports Medicine began education efforts aimed at our coaches and student-athletes.

• Auburn Athletics provided urine samples to the drug testing company to assist them in their efforts to develop a test.

• The Director of Sports Medicine and former Coach Gene Chizik both addressed the football team about the dangers of synthetic marijuana at multiple team meetings in the Fall of 2010, before a test was available. A story about the drug was placed on the locker of every football player on the team.

• Within the first few months of testing, 3 percent of our student-athletes tested positive for synthetic marijuana.

• Phone records show that more than 50 phone calls were made to the parents of two former student-athletes who were interviewed by ESPN.

• The father of one of the student-athletes who was apparently interviewed by ESPN was sent a letter informing him that his son had failed a drug test for regular marijuana two months before the robbery.

• The Auburn Drug Testing/Drug Education Advisory Committee recommended to the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics that synthetic marijuana be added to the Auburn Athletics drug testing policy on March 14, 2011. The policy change was adopted that day.

• Penalties for the use of synthetic marijuana were put into place for the next academic year beginning in August of 2011. Since it became a banned substance under the drug testing policy, only three student-athletes have tested positive for synthetic marijuana out of more than 2,500 tests administered.

I hope the facts clear up any misconceptions about drug use among our student-athletes. It is important for you to know that Auburn Athletics conducts approximately 1,500 drug tests each academic year. Less than one percent of our student-athletes test positive for illegal substances.

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