According to Keene State College Director of Athletics John Ratliff, along with most schools in the country, KSC has a separate drug policy from the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association]. 

Keene State holds a penalty of 4 games, or 25 percent of the season, whichever is less for a single and positive drug test.

That penalty jumps to 8 games or half of the season for a second offense and finally, complete termination from any athletics and permanent ineligibility for a third slip-up.

Three strikes and you’re out.

It’s not as harsh as the hammer brought down by the NCAA, but players, coaches and administrators find that it is effective.

The NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association]  has amended the drug policy, according to a “Roll Call” document provided by Director of Athletics John Ratliff.

As it stands now, the “Roll Call” states if a student-athlete tests positive for  nonperformance enhancing drugs or PEDs [performance enhancing drugs]  at championships, the athlete is immediately suspended for the equivalent of an entire season and loses a full-year of athletic eligibility.

This document indicates a difference from the previous protocol in that the NCAA’s punishment for the use of street drugs has now been cut in half.

The “Roll Call” testimony found that students who tested positive for street drugs often never returned to intercollegiate sports and withdrew from the academic institution altogether.

It showed that with a lesser but still serious penalty, student-athletes are more likely to return to competition and stay in school.

Ratliff said that he agreed with the NCAA’s new drug consequences.

Philip Bergeron / Graphics Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphics Editor

“You’re cheating … you’re trying to gain a competitive advantage,” Ratliff said, referring to PEDs.

Rob Colbert, head coach of the men’s basketball team at Keene State, also holds a strong opposition to the use of PEDs.

“If someone truly is engaging in PEDs, that’s cheating.  I think the number-one thing we have to protect is the integrity of our contests and our games and our championships and if someone’s cheating, you know, that’s the cardinal sin,” Colbert said.

Fortunately, Keene State athletes have never had a problem with PEDs or NCAA testing according to the athletic department.

Ratliff confirmed that no student has ever tested positive for any banned drug on a NCAA drug test.

The consequences have been an effective deterrent for students.

Cody Dube, a junior on the baseball team, commented on the drug policy.

“It keeps people in line,” Dube said.

Dube said that the looming consequence of suspension is a factor, but he said there’s also the publicity of it that makes athletes shy away from drugs as well.

“I think it makes them think twice … if they get caught for drugs everyone is going to find out.  You know, coaches, players, teachers, people will just know the decisions that they made,” Dube said.

In light of the recent suspensions in professional sports, it is uncertain whether it is fair to impose such strict penalties for a single offense while the professionals get a slap on the wrist for the same type of offenses.

”I would think that it should be similar to the major leagues.  I think it’s weird that kids in college are held to a higher standard than people who are being paid millions of dollars to do that but on the other hand, we don’t get tested as much … I think it should be tested more, ” Dube said.

However, Colbert said he disagrees.

“It would be a mistake to make them alike for the sake of making them alike because they’re two different organizations and two different missions,” Colbert said.

Noting that the goal of professional sports is mainly business-oriented, while the goal of collegiate sports is to develop the student both athletically, socially and academically.

Another topic among the Keene State athletic staff has been marijuana use.

Since becoming legal in multiple states across the country, Ratliff said he has been considering lessening the penalty of a positive-test for marijuana from 4 to 2 games.

Then it would be the same penalty as if a student-athlete were to be caught drinking while underage.

There have been no steps taken to make that happen, but Ratliff said that a change in the school policy is possible.

The NCAA, KSC, as well as many institutions across the country have been doing their best to prevent drug use in student-athletes.

The scare-tactics of up to year-long suspension for a first offense may be severe, but by all accounts, it seems to be working.

“I think one of our jobs as educators is to reinforce well-being, wellness and to help kids in staying away from some of those choices they could make that wouldn’t be good for them…” Colbert said.

Colbert continued, “No one is going around saying that stuff is good for you, and we’re all about kids being healthy, making good choices and holding them accountable when they don’t so as to reinforce the educational message.”


Jacob Barrett can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !