Potential new roster requirement: Roanoke County School Board considers drug testing athletes

By C Craig
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In this Sept. 25, 2015 photo, Warren Hills Regional High School quarterback Evan Murray looks over the Summit defense in Washington, N.J. Murray, a three-sport athlete, died after suffering an injury on the field, school officials said Saturday,...

ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS10) - Roanoke County school administrators say it's a not a right, but a privilege to play. The Roanoke County School Board is researching and considering a random drug test policy for its student-athletes. Salem and Botetourt County schools already have a similar policy in place.

"These kids wanting to play sports, they can look at that peer pressure and say 'I want to play Friday night'," said Roanoke County School Board Member Thomas McCracken.

McCracken told us administrators are considering if they should adopt a new policy: randomly drug testing student athletes and possibly students involved in extracurricular activities.

"Through studies, over 50 percent statistically of high school students admits to illicit drug use at some point in their high school career," said McCracken.

The idea is to lower that statistic and substance use among high school students. And, with the help of the Supreme Court, schools now have the power to test athletes and anybody involved in an extracurricular.

The school board is turning to Salem and Botetourt County, because both already have a similar policy in place. Botetourt County school administrators say that since the start of their program in 2011, only five out of 375 urine tests came back positive for either drugs, alcohol, tobacco or steroids.

"Safety, welfare and their health is the main concern," commented Botetourt County Public School Human Resources and Athletic Director Jill Green. "So, they have to clear a physical annually and we as a school system feel it's very important to put our athletes out at their best. We feel that drug testing is part of it."

The tests run about $100 per student. The Roanoke County School Board said it's too expensive to test the entire student body. That's why there's a focus on sports and extra-curricular activities, which leaders believe are privileges.

"I think if you're going to benefit from those privileges then I think you're held to a higher accountability and an expectation," said McCracken.

Although the proposal is in the planning stages, McCracken said if a test comes back positive a student will get a warning. But, third strike, you're out.

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