Even though the NCAA and many colleges have instituted drug testing, Georgetown University Athletic Director Frank Rienzo said he finds urinalysis "degrading." He does not favor it and doesn't plan to start it, although university administrators are examining "the drug testing issue."
The Washington Post recently asked officials at area colleges with extensive sports programs about such policies. Maryland, Virginia and Navy have testing programs. Starting this fall, the NCAA will test for drugs at all its championship events.
"Somehow I find it degrading," Rienzo said. "I would hope that it would be unnecessary to develop a drug testing program at Georgetown for students in general and our athletes in particular.
"I guess this is an issue in the society in general. Should there be a distinction as to who should be tested and who should not be?
"Somehow or other it does not make me happy as a parent that my children in order to participate in society would have to undergo some type of drug testing."
But, asked if drug testing is an invasion of privacy, he said, "I don't know if it's a substantially greater invasion of privacy than when we require our children to have certain checkups and booster shots."
He said he hopes drug education would "make drug testing unnecessary."
His basketball coach, John Thompson, said in a prepared statement that he opposes drug testing. "I am not in favor of drug testing as it stands now," he said. "I am very interested in and supportive of drug education programs."
Howard University hopes to have a mandatory drug testing program for athletes beginning in the upcoming academic year. Officials at George Washington University and American University said their schools might have a drug testing program by the 1987-88 school year at the earliest. Maryland Revises Tests
The University of Maryland recently revised its program. Starting last September, athletes underwent random urinalysis. However, they were not accompanied, leaving the possibility that samples could be changed. Starting this fall, players will have to strip and/or be watched while they give the sample, so a switch cannot be possible, an official said.
Maryland's program will continue to stipulate that if a player tests positive for drugs, he or she will be retested within a week. Another positive test would lead to two weeks of counseling. Another positive test would result in a two-week suspension from practice and competition. One more would result in the player being dismissed from the team, moved from on-campus housing and forfeiting his or her athletic scholarship at the end of the academic year.
Virginia's program, started last December, calls for athletes to give a urine specimen that is divided into two samples. If the first sample tests positive, then the second sample is tested for the amount of the drug use. The athlete is not allowed to practice or compete and must undergo at least one counseling session at the school's health department. The player will be reinstated upon testing negatively.
Since 1981, the Naval Academy has required all midshipmen to take random urinalysis tests. Any midshipman testing positively may ask for a hearing and may appeal. After due process, if the midshipman is deemed a drug user, he or she is dismissed from the Academy, although he or she still may be required to serve as a nonofficer, officials said.$ Mason Starts Program
George Mason University recently announced it would begin testing this year, although its medical and legal offices have not worked out the details. Random urinalysis will be required of athletes throughout the year, along with usual preseason physicals.
At Howard, Austin Lane, the dean for special student services, said he feels "certain" that his school's drug testing proposal will be ratified.
Howard's football coach, Willie Jeffries, said a committee was appointed six months ago "to formulate and implement" a drug testing policy. Details of the program -- including the frequency of random urinalysis tests, what specific drugs athletes will be tested for and the cost of the policy's implementation -- are being reviewed by the school's legal and health offices, Jeffries said.
Urinalysis will be conducted so that "they can't switch specimens," Jeffries said.
Under the program, according to Lane, Howard's health department will decide on the playing status of an athlete who tests positively. Lane said that a sophomore, junior or senior who tests positively could continue to play while undergoing counseling for two weeks. A second positive test would mean counseling the rest of the school year. A third offense probably would result in the player's dismissal from the team with a chance of returning the following season.
"A freshman will be dismissed from the team and put through rehabilitation and given another chance next season," Lane said.
Jeffries and Lane agreed that the new program would be "an acceleration from years past," when athletes were subjected to urinalysis as part of their preseason physicals and the players and coaches attended three yearly drug-counseling sessions.
In 1984, his first year at Howard, Jeffries said "no more than two or three football players" were kicked off the team for smoking marijuana in the athletic dormitory. He also said in 1973, his first season as head coach at South Carolina State University, three football players were expelled from the team for the same reason.
"I'm proud to say since 1984 , we haven't had another incident and don't expect to," he said. "I think it was a situation of the kids saying, 'We'll try the new guy and see how far he'll go.' "
Jeffries said those two incidents, the NCAA's plan to implement drug tests at championship events and the recent cocaine-induced deaths of Len Bias and Don Rogers have convinced him that it's time for drug testing.
"I think it's needed," he said. "I'm really in favor of this because young kids look up to athletes and they have to be role models. We're trying to educate the whole individual and we hope this is part of the whole education process. It's a touchy situation and we're going to try to handle it the best way we can."
At the University of the District of Columbia, the interim athletic director, Willis Thomas, said: "We will have a drug testing program effective in September."
However, John Britton, UDC's vice president of university relations, said: "I'm sure Mr. Thomas would like to have a program. But at this time, we are far from making a decision."
Britton said the school's administrators and its trustees must approve any proposal.
Thomas said the program he forsees in the fall "will be similar" to one at the University of Colorado, although programs at other schools still are being considered.
According to Dave Plati, sports information director at Colorado, the school's program, begun in 1984, calls for an athlete to be warned the first time he or she tests positively. Counseling, rehabilitation and possibly suspension from practice and competition is the discipline for a second positive test. A third positive result will cost the player his or her athletic scholarship for the rest of the academic year and rehabilitation would continue. The scholarship could be restored if the player test negatively.
Thomas said: "I don't think you can come up cold turkey and immediately suspend athletes from the team . You have to just phase things in."
As at Howard, UDC's health department will decide playing status. "And that takes a lot of pressure off the coach," Thomas said. AU Studying Plan
AU Athletic Director Bob Frailey, who announced last week he will resign May 1, 1987, said the school's legal and medical offices are studying a plan but he declined to provide specifics.
"I think that certainly something has got to be done with the drug situation," he said. "I'm not saying this is the best approach, but I don't know if we can wait for a slower process, like education.
"I'm getting sort of testy about the situation because it seems athletics are taking a slap. It's a student problem, not an athletic problem."
"I'm certainly in favor of programs to eliminate drug abuse," said AU's basketball coach, Ed Tapscott. "My only thing is that we make sure we protect the privacy of student-athletes.
"Is drug testing a final step? No. But, it may serve as a deterrent."
Steve Bilsky, athletic director at GW, said the school plans to extensive drug education before beginning testing, although testing is under consideration. He said athletes will attend "three or four" counseling sessions per academic year.
"I don't think anyone knows the best way to get at drug use ," Bilsky said. "We're right down the middle. I hope we can solve a problem like this without testing someone's blood or urine. I just fear that people think drug testing is going to wipe out this problem. I'm not convinced of that.
"We don't want to jump into something that we hadn't planned on because two athletes have died."
But, John Kuester, the GW basketball coach, said: "Seeing what happened to Len Bias has opened my eyes even more. I'm all for drug testing ."