Breaking stories, accusations, denials and counter-charges. It’s been a whirlwind week at Auburn, where blogger Selena Roberts leveled charges of NCAA violations and ESPN claimed a dozen players on Auburn’s 2010 football team failed tests for synthetic marijuana, while officials conspired to keep it secret. If you read this story, you can quickly get lost in a maze of dates and claims about the synthetic marijuana case. In order to get a better handle on a story that many fans (on either side of the issue) have already made up their minds, we present a timeline of dates and facts laid out in stories this week. We report. You decide.
* July of 2010. Synthetic marijuana possession is outlawed in the state of Alabama.
* July 17th, 2010. Auburn’s director of sports medicine, Joe-Joe Petrone, circulates a letter to athletes, informing them the state of Alabama has banned possession.
* Fall of 2010. According to A.D. Jay Jacobs statement, Petrone becomes aware that “synthetic marijuana was a drug readily available in convenience stores…Auburn Athletics contacted our drug testing company to inquire about whether they had a test for synthetic marijuana and when one would be made available.”
* Fall of 2010. Jacobs says both Petrone and coach Gene Chizik address the team “at multiple meetings” to discuss the dangers of synthetic marijuana.
* January 10, 2011. Auburn defeats Oregon to win the BCS national championship.
* January 27th, 2011. Auburn begins testing for synthetic marijuana. In an article at AL.com, Joel Erickson writes , “because the drug was not banned by Auburn, the NCAA or the state of Alabama, ” synthetic marijuana was not covered under Auburn’s drug-testing policy. As noted above, possession was outlawed six months earlier. These tests started more than seven months before penalties would kick in.
* March 14th, 2011. The Auburn Drug Testing/Drug Education Advisory Committee recommends that synthetic marijuana be added to the Auburn athletics drug policy’s list of banned substances. According to Jacobs statement, “the policy change was adopted that day.”
* August 1, 2011. At the beginning of the academic year, penalties for synthetic marijuana use at Auburn take effect.
* October 14th, 2011. Alabama governor Robert Bentley issues an executive order, making the possession or sale of chemical compounds typically found in synthetic marijuana substances unlawful.
One other timeline issue of note from the Erickson article. Auburn officials point out they couldn’t have legally informed parents about failed drug tests before the drug was banned. Later in the piece, he points out that Auburn did communicate with parents. What was communicated is not clear. Two athletes in particular are mentioned – Dakota Mosley and Shaun Kitchens. And when did that communication take place? According to records obtained by AL.com, “Thirty calls were made from Auburn’s coaching staff to Kimberly Harkness (Kitchens’ mother) between May 1, 2010 and March 22, 2011, and more than 100 calls from Auburn’s coaching staff to Harrison Mosley between May 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011. ”
That’s more than 130 total calls to two parents during a time in which no penalties for synthetic marijuana were in place. Jacobs had a lower total in his statement – “more than 50 phone calls were made to the parents of two former student-athletes who were interviewed by ESPN.” If information about failed drug tests wasn’t being communicated, one can only speculate why Harrison Mosley received more than 100 phone calls in just over a year.