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Michigan's Mitch McGary heads to NBA amid one-year NCAA suspension

McGary was a force for Michigan Wolverines
Photo by Leon Halip

On Friday, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports released a story on the reason why Michigan Wolverines’ star Mitch McGary decided to declare for the NBA Draft. However, after missing all but eight games in his sophomore season, McGary was intent on coming back strong for his junior year.

Prior to the 2013-14 season, Mitch McGary was sure to be a lottery pick with any semblance of a good season. There was still the prevailing thought that he would turn pro once he was shut down with season ending back surgery. However, the Michigan big man had other ideas for his basketball playing future.

Michigan loses Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III to NBA Draft.

March set off a turn of events that no one saw coming. According Mitch McGary, after having a couple of drinks before the NCAA tournament was set to begin, a couple friends offered him to smoke marijuana. He usually turns that kind of stuff down, but this time he decided to take the bait.

Little did anyone know, Coach John Beilein would use a motivational tactic in their Sweet 16 game against Tennessee. In an effort to inspire the rest of the Wolverines, Beilein thought it was a good idea for Mitch McGary to dress in uniform.

Now if you’re a passionate basketball fan like I am, the first thought was that “wow Mitch McGary is really going to give Michigan some minutes in this game.” However, it really was a motivational ploy that ended up working in the end.

Once the game was over, the NCAA randomly selected Mitch McGary to take the drug test. As Dan Wetzel notes, McGary had not played in months, but let’s not assume the NCAA ever does their homework.

A couple weeks later, Michigan’s coach and Athletic Director Dave Brandon informed McGary that he was suspended for a year by the NCAA for failing a drug test.

There was not a chance that Mitch McGary would sit out for a second season because he smoked weed. Yet, the NCAA was ready to send another college star packing to the NBA.

It was shocking that Mitch McGary was mulling staying in college this long. For all of his talent, he could have left last season, so it was surely a foregone conclusion that McGary was gone once Michigan was bounced from the 2014 NCAA Tournament. However, he wanted to go out while playing the game at Michigan.

The NCAA had a chance to have a recognizable star playing at a preeminent program when most of the stars leave every year. Instead, their ridiculously archaic rules ruined the game on one more level.

First of all, the penalty for smoking marijuana is extremely excessive by the NCAA. It’s so excessive that the rule is schedule to change to a half season for the same offense next year. Yet, that still seems like an overwhelming use of power. As we know, it’s what the NCAA does best.

For the fans that hoped to see Mitch McGary play one more year, blame the NCAA. Even though McGary blames himself for making a mistake, the punishment does not fit the crime.


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