ATHENS - When Georgia plays at Clemson on Saturday, it will not have one of its key players on defense. Josh Harvey-Clemons is suspended for an incident that did not result in his arrest, but did incur an automatic suspension under UGA's student-athlete drug policy.
It's the third straight year a key Georgia defensive player has been out to start the season under the policy, which is among the harshest in the SEC. It seems clear it places the football program at a competitive disadvantage. But the policy isn't changing anytime soon.
New UGA school president Jere Morehead, in an interview on Wednesday, said he still supports the policy, backing up what head coach Mark Richt has said.
"I'll give you the same answer coach Richt gave a few weeks ago. I was with him in Gwinnett County when he gave that answer," Morehead said, referring to a UGA Day event. "I think it's better for us to hold to our stringent policies on this subject, and ask the Southeastern Conference to raise their standards to where we are, rather than us consider lowering our standards. So I think it's right to expect our student-athletes to conduct themselves in a certain way and for there to be consequences when they fail to do so.
"And if that means we have a player missing a game every so often, to hold those high standards, I'm fine with that kind of policy."
But Morehead reiterated that he plans to lobby the SEC "very strenuously" to have a uniform policy. He will do so at the next presidents' meeting this fall.
"We'll get a good sense on where others stand on that subject," Morehead said. "You know it sometimes takes the conference a period of time to work through an issue. When I was faculty athletics representative (from UGA to the SEC in the mid-2000s) I know sometimes an issue would percolate for a few years before a consensus would develop around how to resolve the issue. But I've gotta believe that other presidents and chancellors are as concerned about the issue of drug or alcohol misuse by their student-athletes as we are. And I'll be interested to see what sorts of ideas they have on this subject."