Although testing for drugs among athletes has become an accepted practice at some colleges, as pointed up by action taken by Auburn and Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference in the past week, the NCAA does not specifically endorse the trend.
At Auburn, football players who returned to the campus Saturday underwent blood and urine testing for drugs.
Coach Pat Dye had advised players and their parents beforehand, calling tests part of the required medical checkups for players.
Kentucky football players were tested for drugs secretly when they reported to campus this fall, according to Athletic Director Cliff Hagan. At Kentucky, tests were done without the players' knowledge or consent. A number of tests indicated that players had used drugs recently, and the team was confronted with the proof.
The NCAA leaves the decisions on whether or not to test to each school and conference. "If an individual conference wants to go ahead and do it, having explored all the logistics and legal ramifications of testing, and still wants to go ahead, it's strictly up to them," said Eric Zender, a research coordinator with the NCAA drug education committee.
According to NCAA rules, its executive committee may authorize drug testing during its championship events only. "That is the only time we have direct control," Zender said.
He added that the expense of testing and its potential legal problems are also considered. "And the basic reason for testing (in athletics) is to see that the kid doesn't have an unfair advantage over others. If there is no proof that drugs give that advantage, then why test? It might imply we think it does."
Officials of another SEC school, Vanderbilt, said routine urine and blood tests given to players who reported last week for practice are capable of detecting drug use, although they are not specifically given to test for drugs.
Athletic Director Roy Kramer said such tests had been gven "as long as I have been athletic director."
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Robert James said his organization "has no set policy (for) drug testing, but we do believe in the individual institution deciding what route they should take, rather than have it mandated by an outside organization. They are much closer to the players."
At Howard University, according to Athletic Director Leo Miles, such testing has been done "routinely in the past, with unannounced urinalysis during the season, but I don't know what plans we have (for testing) right now."
Miles said Howard may develop a more intensive program in drug education for all athletes.
Maryland, Georgetown, George Washington and the University of Virginia do not screen athletes for drugs during routine physicals.
"We take the routine tests, but there is no reason for us to do drug testing (on samples)," said John J. Bush, Maryland's trainer.
Dick Schultz, Virginia's athletic director, said he is not aware that his school has ever run such tests, and there have been no discussions about implementing a testing program.
"It's (drug abuse) a national problem," he said. "We are instituting a drug education program this year as part of a series of orientation programs. It is a situation we are very concerned and mindful of."