A source close to the team has told me that Gators QB Will Grier and his team of lawyers will have a conference call with the NCAA this afternoon.
The call will be overseen by the National Center for Drug Free Sport. The NCAA’s drug policy states that formal appeals must be conducted via a conference call in addition to submitting written appeals. NCAA staff- which includes legal counsel and drug testing consultants- will of course be on the line as well, but they are not supposed to be directly responsible for determining the result of the appeal.
Grier, who was suspended last month for a positive PED test, has already filed his formal appeal to the NCAA. The goal of the conference call is to plead Grier’s case and make a verbal, real-time appeal to reduce his suspension on the grounds that Grier truly did not know that what he took was an illegal substance. Grier and his lawyers from Morgan & Morgan are claiming that the NCAA’s original suspension of one calendar year is too harsh since Grier’s mistake was one of naivety and carelessness as opposed to malice. They will presumably ask for the suspension to be reduced to just the rest of this year, so that he would be eligible for the beginning of next season.
However, the verdict- the decision on whether or not to reduce the length of Grier’s suspension- is not expected today, and possibly not for some time, according to the source. Assuming the goal is to get him back for the beginning of the 2016 season, the NCDFS has some time, though, so this isn’t the end of the world by any means. And in fact, the longer it takes to make a decision, the better it could be, as it likely means that they’re doing as thorough and as diligent a job as possible considering everything.
UPDATE: My source has told me that he now expects a decision to be made “almost certainly before New Year’s Day, and quite possibly before Thanksgiving.” The source added- and this is verbatim copy and paste- that “The earliest I would expect a decision would be this week, but that isn’t necessarily good news, because that would just mean that they didn’t have any trouble coming to their decision. And like we see in football, if you see the ref coming out of the replay booth within ten seconds, chances are he’s sticking with the original decision. But if it takes a longer period of time, while it may add to the anticipation, it probably means that they see something that makes them want to overturn the original decision and the extra time it takes is likely them debating amongst themselves.”
UPDATE: One of Grier’s attorneys, Clay Townsend, issued a statement on the process to the Orlando Sentinel: “We have worked diligently on the investigation and appeal, and we, along with all of the Gator Nation, look forward to Will’s return to eligibility as soon as possible,” Townsend said in his statement to the Sentinel. “When the NCAA’s decision is rendered, we will issue a statement. I have no further comment at this time as to the conference, its substance, procedures or attendees. Will is a great athlete, a good person and a significant contributor to the Gators winning the SEC East. Will and his family are grateful for everyone’s support.”
I’ll have more on this story as more information becomes available, so keep checking back for updates.