A source has told me that QB Will Grier’s appeal to shorten his suspension was denied by the NCAA. As a result, Grier will not only be forced to miss the rest of the 2015, but the first six games of the 2016 season; the 365 day period the NCAA mandates for PED suspensions runs out on October 10, 2016.
Grier and his team of lawyers had attempted to convince the NCAA, and its partner Drug Free Sport, that his suspension should be reduced to just the rest of the 2015 season in a conference call last week. Their rationale was that Grier truly did not know that he was taking a banned substance. But according to my source, that argument was all but dead in the water before it was even presented in that conference call.
The source said that the reasoning for denying the appeal was the old “ignorance of the law is no excuse” adage. When a player appeals a drug-related suspension to the NCAA, there are two possible routes the athlete can take: they can fight the suspension on either procedural grounds (i.e. someone tampered with or accidentally switched the samples) or knowledge grounds (meaning they didn’t know what they took was illegal.) With the right proof, it’s much easier to overturn the suspension in former cases than it is the latter, because by Grier saying he didn’t know that he was taking a banned substance, he gave the NCAA a direct confession that he did indeed take a banned substance. When he admitted to not checking with UF’s medical staff, the NCAA translated that into “it’s all his fault.” And that was pretty much game over for him.
Sadly, the NCAA doesn’t particularly care that Grier took the effort to man up and admit responsibility; they’ve got their set of rules they laid out, they see a player break that rule and then they get the player to admit that not only is he in fact guilty of breaking the rule they laid out, but that it is his fault and only his fault that the rule was broken. I’m not going to sit here and write some lie about how I think a full year suspension is a fair punishment for a mistake of pure foolishness rather than malice, but the rule was in place before Grier was caught- and admitted to- breaking it. And so I do understand why the appeal was denied. I don’t like it any more than any other Gator fan reading this, but I understand it.
I’m also not the only one who’s been given that line of thought from the NCAA:
But before we all start to freak out about not having Grier and thus having to stick with Treon Harris for the first six games of next year, I’d just like to point out who those first six games are against: Massachusetts, Kentucky, North Texas, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and LSU. Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt are on the road, and as we’ve seen this year, a loss to LSU by itself does absolutely nothing to damage national championship hopes. When you think about the other teams Grier will be back for- among them Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas and FSU- you have to admit to yourself, it could have been a LOT worse.
It’s a rough day for the Gator Nation, no doubt. But we’ve got to support our team in all kinds of weather. And if the Will Muschamp years taught us anything, it’s that storm clouds don’t last forever…