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UGA faculty could face penalties for disclosing student offenses

Last week on our Athens, Georgia, DUI defense law blog, we mentioned that college sports players could be suspended from playing in games if they are charged with serious offenses such as drunk driving.

Although being banned from playing in a game or two is not a severe punishment compared to the legal penalties one might face after a DUI conviction, it is still a punishment that could affect a player's reputation on and off the field, even if the individual is never convicted of a criminal offense.

In an effort to protect the privacy of students and to prevent the public from making assumptions about a person's character long before a conviction, Georgia's athletic association has made some changes in its polices that address drug testing and substance abuse offenses.

The University of Georgia's guidelines for punishing students who are accused of committing drug and alcohol-related offenses will remain relatively the same. However, this school year, faculty and other employees could be penalized for disclosing information about students who fail drug tests. In some cases, employees could lose their jobs for disclosing any information about students' drug test results.

Athletes will face some minor additional penalties when they are accused of committing a drug or alcohol-related offense. Georgia's athletic director said that coaches will have the option of suspending players from practices in addition to games, even for a first offense.

All other penalties for players remain unchanged. Players will be suspended for at least 10 percent of the season for a banned substance offense. Players will be suspended for at least 30 percent of the season for a second banned substance offense. A third banned substance offense will result in a player losing his or her scholarships and ability to play sports for the school.

After a DUI arrest, players will be suspended for at least 20 percent of the season. When a player is charged with DUI and another offense at any time, the player will be suspended for 50 percent of the season, according to the school's policies.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald, "Revised UGAA drug-testing policies change little but put heat on those who leak information," Marc Weiszer, August 7, 2012

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