A highly reputable source has told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Miles Cartwright, Henry Brooks, Tony Hicks, Darien Nelson-Henry and Steve Rennard were all suspended for Penn basketball’s game at Delaware on Dec. 21 after failing random drug tests. The official word after the game was that these five players were suspended for violating team rules, which Penn coach Jerome Allen did not elaborate on in his postgame press conference.
Two sources close to the team did not comment specifically on the reports that five players failed drug tests, citing that Allen had told those with knowledge of the incident to say only that "it was a disciplinary action that [Allen] took due to them not following a team rule." Penn Director of Athletic Communications Mike Mahoney also did not comment on the reports of failed drug tests.
Many unknowns still remain, including when the tests were administered, what drug(s) or masking agent(s) were identified from the test, when Allen notified the players of their suspensions and whether the tests were administered by Penn or the NCAA. A failed drug test administered by the NCAA would result in the players losing one full year of eligibility effective on the date the urine sample was given. The NCAA does not require schools to drug test their players, nor are those schools required to report the results of drug tests to the NCAA.
However, 90 percent of Division I schools have their own drug-testing programs independent from the NCAA. Additionally, NCAA Bylaw 10.2 requires schools to follow their own institutional policies and protocols for drug violations if they have them.
The Penn Athletics Compliance Office's 2012-13 Review of Rules and Regulations Governing Intercollegiate Athletics states that Penn "does not promote drug-testing of its student-athletes except when there is cause or suspicion of abuse." The guide does state that those found to have used banned or street drugs "shall be declared ineligible for further participation in regular-season and postseason competition," but does not clarify whether this is a University or NCAA policy.
Mahoney told the Daily Pennsylvanian that he assumes the drug policy being enforced is "at University-level," and he does not think the NCAA has authority to decide what punishments are given on alcohol or drug-related matters. Mahoney added that coach Allen "has been in touch with his superiors," who "are aware of the reasons for the suspension and support him on his decision."
Penn Assistant Director of Athletics/Compliance D. Elton Cochran-Fikes was not available via phone and did not immediately return an email asking to clarify Penn's policy.
Two sources close to the team have also said that they expect the suspensions to be lifted for all five players for Penn’s next game at Wagner on Saturday. The matchup would mark the suspended group’s first game action since the Quakers’ 68-55 home loss to Villanova on Dec. 8. The decision to play the five after a one-game suspension would suggest that the reported drug tests were not administered by the NCAA.
We’ll continue to report on the suspensions as more news breaks.
Megan Soisson also contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.