Florida coach Jim McElwain calls Will Grier suspension “an honest mistake”
Florida coach Jim McElwain confirmed at a press conference on Monday that starting quarterback Will Grier is suspended for this week and “in the near future” because of a failed drug test. McElwain said it was an over-the-counter supplement.
“It was an honest mistake, and yet it could be prevented,” McElwain said. “I want everybody to understand that this is a mistake that we will learn from.”
Grier spoke at the press conference as well. He said he did not check with the medical staff before taking the supplement. Florida officials did not reveal the name of the supplement, citing student privacy reasons.
NCAA rules stipulate that a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs carries a suspension of 12 months. McElwain said the university will appeal the decision.
Grier would be eligible immediately if he wins the appeal, but if denied he will be suspended for the rest of the 2015 season and the first six games of the 2016 season. It was originally thought that Grier would also be viewed as a “junior” instead of a redshirt sophomore for eligibility purposes, but the NCAA clarified the situation, according to Mark Long of the Associated Press, and he will still be a redshirt sophomore in 2016.
“We will as a university appeal this and we support Will and his family in every way possible,” McElwain said. “We also know there are certain steps to go along the way when taking an over the counter supplement. It doesn’t matter what it is. That’s the way it is.”
McElwain did not confirm what the supplement was. He said he learned of the suspension Sunday, and wanted the opportunity to meet with the team before discussing it with the media. He said Grier will remain with the team, but is ineligible to play.
“We feel for (Grier),” McElwain said. “We feel his pain and he had chance to address the team. He spoke from the heart and one of the things he expressed when we learned about it yesterday is the opportunity to maybe affect somebody else’s life, and just understand that we can learn from this.”
Sophomore Treon Harris will replace Grier this Saturday against No. 6 LSU in a battle of unbeatens at Tiger Stadium. Harris has starting experience, both last season and the first game in 2015. He was suspended for the Tennessee game for reportedly failing a drug test, but Harris has completed 19-of-27 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns this season. He has also run for 63 yards on 10 carries.
“I feel like we’ve got two really good quarterbacks, and we’ve got a package for another one,” McElwain said. “This is not an excuse. It happened. Things happen in life, and if you want to use it as an excuse, so be it. That’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to go in and have a great week of practice. We’re going to go play our tails off against one of the best teams in the country, on their turf. This ought to be a blast. This ought to be a celebration, this game, for what this is all about. This is fun, this is why we do it. If you don’t like this, get out of it man. Go do something else.”
— Ben Murphy (@B_murph4) October 12, 2015
If Will Grier's appeal is denied, he’s out 1 calendar year, so he would also miss Florida’s 1st 6 games in 2016
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 12, 2015
NCAA clarifies rule, says QB Will Grier would return as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, not a junior as many thought
— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) October 12, 2015