According to the university’s intercollegiate athletics handbook, “The goal of UCSB’s Drug Education, Prevention and Testing Program is to promote a drug- and alcohol-free environment for the intercollegiate competitive program.”
While headlines and breaking news segments of substance abuse or other drug-related violations tend to have a negative connotation, there are various components that contribute to the formation and current state of athletic drug policies and procedures here at UCSB.
“Something helpful to understand is that there is both NCAA drug testing policies and procedures, and there’s also institutional drug policies and procedures,” Deputy Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator Kelly Barsky explained. “In most cases they’re very much alike. Almost all Division I programs navigate both.”
“The goal is two-fold. I think the NCAA put [the rules] in place for competitive equity [to] make sure there’s not drug use that then potentially enhances performance, which creates an inequity [on] the playing field,” Barsky said. “The institutional drug policies and procedures may provide some of that, but it’s also to provide support for student-athlete health and wellness.”
It is this dimension of health and wellness that has distinguished the foundation of UCSB’s drug policies and procedures, aiding their emphasis on not leaving student-athletes in the position to come to conclusions through trial and error, but rather with “drug education, prevention and testing.”
Although the Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) building serves as most UCSB student-athletes’ sanctuary for their needs, ensuring that they are also aware of the multitude of on-campus resources is one of the primary components on Barsky’s agenda.
“My primary function is to provide oversight and support to a lot of our internal components within the [athletics] department,” Barsky said. “[This includes] sports medicine, sport performance, our collaboration with academic services, NCAA compliance [and] student advisory council. Anything pertaining to providing internal support or collaboration with the student athlete experience.”
Busy with practice, games, traveling, courses and catching up on homework to remain eligible for play all while trying to maintain a social life, the student-athlete experience includes an intensified form of the typical student’s yearn for balance and time for self.
The array of responsibilities can be overwhelmingly stressful, especially with the prevalence of peer pressure or the temptations that exist within Isla Vista that sometimes lead to violations and misconduct.
An awareness of these temptations is necessary as student-athletes are provided with no timetable concerning the frequency of drug testing throughout the regular or off seasons.
“The NCAA as well as the institutional drug policy has random testing dates,” Barsky said. “There’s no schedule or schedule per sport. We can be notified or student-athletes can be notified anytime that there will be a test within a 24-hour period. The [athletics] department works with Drug Free Sport, which is the same company that administers drug testing for the NCAA.”
Although the NCAA lays out the foundation for institutions to follow, UCSB’s drug policy prides itself on providing student-athletes with resources that are not only primarily concerned with performance but the overall mental and physical health as well.
“I think the institutional structure provides a little more support. Again, you’re still [subject to] year-round random selection, but if you’re selected and there’s a positive test, there’s a process for support and potentially rehabilitation,” Barsky said. “Your first sanction is to follow the process of working with the alcohol and drug program. A second positive [or more] will lead to sanctions within your playing season, but it’s also to provide and use counseling services. The NCAA doesn’t have those supports in place like we have as an institution.”
“We use the drug testing policy as well as a lot of resources. Services such as student health, the alcohol and drug program and C.A.P.S. We try to use our resources to provide the best education to student-athletes about drugs, alcohol and choices in general. The policy is an accountability method to ensure that they are following and complying with the NCAA rules and mandates it takes to be a student-athlete.”
Although Barsky and her staff cannot monitor student-athletes’ every choice and action, instilling drug policies and procedures that are educational and relying applicable information is significant to them considering the longevity of their health both now and in the future.
UCSB’s intercollegiate athletics handbook concerning student-athlete drug policies and procedures can be found here: http://ucsb.prestosports.com/general/2016-17/files/2016_17_UCSB_ICA_Drug_Education_and_Prevention_Program_Policy_and_Procedures_Final.pdf
A version of this story appeared on p. 8 of the April 20, 2017, edition of the Daily Nexus