When an NCAA Rule Could End a College Football Players Dream
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Ordinarily I would sarcastically write "Never Change NCAA, never change". But in this case one of America's most inflexible institutions really NEEDS to change.
The folks at WGXA-TV in Macon, Georgia did a story Wednesday on a local kid trying to make it as a "Preferred Walk-On" at Auburn University, which doesn't guarantee he'd play, but fulfilled a dream and is the opportunity C.J. Harris has been wanting his entire life.
Oh by the way, C.J. has an issue with epileptic seizures, something he's been dealing with his entire life. His 14th seizure in his 18-years alive happened in early 2017, the issue has been under control since then.
The reason: C.J. has been taking a form of Cannabis Oil, prescribed to him by his doctor since the last seizure in January a year ago. According to Cam Gaskins, the WGXA reporter who did the story, C.J.started taking the oil before the 2017 football season where he starred at Safety for the Warner Robins High School State Championship winning football team.
He hasn't had a seizure since.
But...this is where the story turns. The NCAA requires players to be periodically drug tested and as a player on the Auburn Roster, Harris would be subject to testing. And the consensus appears to be the Cannabis Oil would show up on the test as it is a "Banned Substance" by NCAA rules.
Unfortunately, once Auburn's Medical and Athletic staff read his medical records and realized the issue, telling the family C.J. would not be able to play.
Which is where our problem comes into play: What do you do?
Could Auburn and Harris ask the NCAA for a waiver? The story doesn't ask or make clear whether he could or couldn't. Harris could play NAIA or Division II football according to Gaskins story--but do they not test at those levels of play?
Should the NCAA make an exception here? Should they be willing to make allowances for previously prescribed medical conditions? Should they allow a doctor to speak on an athlete's behalf stating it is a life saving prescription even if it something that is "Banned" by a sport?
All good questions and ones not asked here. The NCAA isn't exactly known for being compassionate or listening to issues such as this. But they do need to be asked.
I wish C.J. and his family nothing but the best and hope he'll push for some answers. I hope he'll persuade someone to help him in following his dream. Please find someone who'll present your dilemma to the NCAA their own-selves.
There's no guarantee they will listen, it is after all the NCAA, but there's no harm in trying to put them on the spot.