Drug Law

Notre Dame to Its Football Players: Drinking to Death Fine, But No Marijuana

| by NORML
"ND" stands for "No Dopers" but certainly not "No Drinkers"

If you are under the age of 21, both alcohol and marijuana are drugs that are illegal for you to possess and use. But only one of them is celebrated in our culture, considered a normal part of “growing up”, and leads to countless student sexual assaults, violence, and the occasional death.

CINCINNATI (FOX News) — A “drunk and belligerent” 17-year-old Notre Dame football recruit was killed in a fall from a fifth-floor hotel balcony during his senior-year spring break in Florida, authorities said Saturday.

Matt James died Friday around 6:30 p.m. at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach. Police said he was dead when officers arrived.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” Panama City Beach police Maj. David Humphreys said.

James’ former teammates at St. Xavier High School gathered for a private prayer service in the school’s chapel, mourning the second death of an athlete this school year. James, an all-state offensive lineman, had been the first top signing for new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

James isn’t the first spring breaker to die from a balcony fall this year. Brandon Kohler, a 19-year-old from Winder, Ga., died March 24 when he fell from a fifth-floor balcony at the Holiday Terrace Motel in Panama City Beach.

While this took place at Spring Break, the news of an under-21 college student dying from the toxic effects of binge drinking or accidents related to drunkenness is not uncommon. Yet Notre Dame, like most universities, give those guilty of underaged drinking nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

(WSBT) …[T]he new Notre Dame head coach is more bystander than authority figure in the aftermath of star wide receiver Michael Floyd’s recent citation for underage drinking back home in the Twin Cities during Winter Break.

According to a police report, Floyd said he was involved in a physical altercation with a Somali man at a house party. Floyd’s longtime friend, Minnesota running back Shady Salamon, was also cited for underage drinking in the early-morning hours Friday.

The legal ramifications are easy – likely a fine and/or pretrial diversion program in Minneapolis. What happens next with the football team is a way more difficult read.

Common sense would dictate an in-house punishment imposed by Kelly that involved some early-morning workouts and perhaps some community service to keep the other side of campus happy.

That sort of fits the scenario lived out by ND backup offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. when he and 40 other students were arrested for underage drinking during a raid at a party on South Bend’s east side in September of 2008.

But the judicial body making that decision, the Office of Residence Life, is inconsistent and unpredictable – some might even say capricious.

Recently deposed Irish head football coach Charlie Weis actually went a few steps further, calling Res Life “the biggest problem on campus relative to the football program.”

“It’s not close for second,” Weis said in an interview shortly after his firing. “I think if you took a poll of the students at Notre Dame on what’s the biggest negative issue, I would bet at least 50 percent of them would say, ‘Residence Life.’

“They don’t understand all the principles of du Lac [the Notre Dame Student Handbook]. These are college kids. College kids do what college kids do. I just don’t understand why they’re even issues.”

Y’know, college kids just naturally engage in illegal drinking, it’s what college kids do. Sure, some of ‘em die from drinking games, keg stands, and beer bongs, so why is it even an issue?  But if the football player is caught smoking a cannabis bong…?

(Chicago Breaking Sports) Mike Ragone worked diligently to return from multiple knee injuries and had a rousing spring game effort just weeks ago. And now his 2010 season may rest in the hands of Notre Dame’s student disciplinary arm.

Ragone faces a misdemeanor marijuana charge after a weekend arrest, in which police found two small bags of the drug in the purse of a woman passenger in the car Ragone was driving, according to reports.

According to probable cause affidavits filed by Trooper Tony LoMonaco, Ragone gave the baggies to his girlfriend to hide in her purse as they were being pulled over. LoMonaco said Ragone waived his right to remain silent and said the marijuana belonged to him.

That admission could prove significant — and not in a good way — when Ragone appears for his inevitable hearing with Notre Dame’s Office of Residence Life.

And what could that punishment be?

(Bleacher Report) It may seem heavy in terms of other universities, but Notre Dame holds their student athletes to a higher standard. Under Article 6 in Notre Dame’s Student Handbook, one can find the outline of drug penalties:

Possession, use or misuse of any controlled substance, including, but not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and depressants, is a serious violation of University policy. Students who possess, use or misuse such substances shall be subject to disciplinary suspension or permanent dismissal.

Ragone may or may not done the blue and gold ever again. That decision has yet to be made.

So students shall be subject to automatic suspension or dismissal for cannabis, first offense.  The punishment for underaged alcohol use? Not so cut and dried…

(du Lac) 2. All students are responsible for complying with University regulations and Indiana laws regarding possession or consumption of alcohol.

a. Any person under 21 years of age is underage in the State of Indiana. All students are expected to comply with Indiana law at all times. Students may be subject to disciplinary action for underage consumption, possession or transportation of alcoholic beverages.

e. Students are not permitted to provide alcohol to any person who is underage. For purposes of this policy, provide means to sell, lend, give, make available, exchange, barter or furnish in any way.

g. Underage students may not host tailgate gatherings at which alcohol is served or consumed.

3. Intoxication by any student, regardless of age, whether in public or in private, is prohibited. Symptoms of intoxication include slurred speech, impaired motor coordination and balance, loss of good judgment, or nausea. Symptoms of severe intoxication include the inability to walk or stand, loss of consciousness, or vomiting. A student’s first incident of intoxication shall be addressed by the Rector if the violation occurs in the student’s residence hall and the behavior does not fall within the definition of severe intoxication. At the discretion of the Rector, the student may be referred to the Office of Residence Life and Housing. Second and subsequent incidents of intoxication throughout a student’s academic career, as well as any violations that occur outside the student’s residence hall, shall be referred to the Office of Residence Life and Housing. Similarly, all instances of severe intoxication shall be referred to the Office of Residence Life and Housing. Repeated incidents of intoxication or a single incident of a serious nature may result in disciplinary suspension or permanent dismissal from the University.

So if I’m reading this correctly, mere use of alcohol by an underaged student has no automatic suspension or dismissal and may only be subject to disciplinary action.  Intoxication by an underaged student has no automatic suspension or dismissal. Repeated intoxication by an underaged student has no automatic suspension or dismissal. A serious incident of intoxication or repeated intoxication by an underaged student may lead to suspension or dismissal.

This is SAFER’s entire reason for existence. Check them out for information on their SAFER Campuses Initiative.