Athletic directors favor drug testing

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All six county high school athletic directors would be in favor of a countywide drug testing program for student athletes.

Chilton County High principal Greg DeJarnett and athletic director/football coach Brian Carter took a proposal to the county board of education on June 16 that would allow testing to be implemented at CCHS.

“One of the biggest things we were concerned with is their health,” Carter said. “As hot as it is, we don’t know if they’re putting things in their bodies that are going to make their heart beat faster. We know that kids these days do a lot of things just to try it.”

DeJarnett’s and Carter’s proposal was based on a testing program in place at Hoover City Schools, which includes Spain Park, where Carter was an assistant before being named coach at CCHS last year.

“It’s a preventative measure,” Carter said. “We’re not trying to catch somebody doing drugs; we’re trying to make them think about it beforehand and prevent it.”

Superintendent of Education Keith Moore said testing at CCHS could be used as a pilot program.

“The Board is looking it over, and we’ll bring it up at the [July 21] meeting,” Moore said.

One sticking point could be who foots the bill for the testing. Moore said the public funds generated through county taxes could be off limits for such a purpose, likely leaving athletic booster clubs to pay for the tests.

Despite any potential hurdles, all five other ADs in the county—Isabella’s Lanny Jones, Jemison’s Brad Abbott, Maplesville’s Brent Hubbert, Thorsby’s Billy Jackson and Verbena’s Mike Harris—said they would be in support of a countywide testing program.

Hubbert even said he proposed to the Board such a program while coaching at Jemison in 2001 or 2002. Parents of Maplesville athletes must sign a handbook, which includes a passage about the athletic department having the right to test for drugs.

The only concern expressed by any of the athletic directors was that the tests would truly be administered fairly and randomly.

“You would just have to make sure everybody was on the same page and that there was a level playing field, so to speak,” Harris said.

Jones in 2005 coached at Calera, a part of the Shelby County school system that tests athletes randomly.

“In this time of your life, you have the chance to change the way you’ve been doing things,” Jones said. “I’d be for it, but there would have to be some kind of support system for afterward, to help that person change.”