Michigan Wolverines big man Mitch McGary announced Friday morning he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft after testing positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament and facing a one-year ban, per Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports.
“Mitch has had a tremendous impact on our program from the moment he committed to us,” said coach John Beilein in a statement released by the school. “He has injected an enthusiasm that cannot be matched. This is why he is loved by the coaching staff, his teammates and Wolverine fans. The progress he has made on and off the court has been outstanding. His willingness to face a personal issue head on and his positive work ethic during his recent injury have helped him to grow in many ways. We know that he will put all of his energy and effort toward achieving his goals. We will continue to assist and support Mitch as he pursues a career in the NBA.”
McGary did acknowledge the ban, and owned up to it in the same statement.
“My family and I want to thank everyone for giving us privacy and the time to make this decision,” said McGary. “As you know, it was important for us to weigh all the factors that go into something like this. With that being said, I am ready to move on to the next stage in my life and enter the NBA Draft.
“Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.
“I take full responsibility for this poor choice and want to apologize to everyone, especially those I have grown close to during my fabulous two years at the University of Michigan.
It’s a tough way for McGary’s career to end with the Wolverines. He has fought so incredibly hard to come back from the back injury that caused him to miss all but eight games this season, but that does not mean he goes blameless for this.
A one-year ban for a first time offender is absolutely ludacris, and the NCAA is completely out of line in doing so, period. There are crimes far more egregious that bring lesser punishments, and it’s not fair to bring the hammer down on a student athlete like this.
With that being said, marijuana by law is an illegal substance and there should have been some better judgement on McGary’s part. This is not an innocent little mistake. He was aware of what he did and rolled the dice on himself.
Often times, we can use instances like this as lessons on how to better ourselves as people and make better choices, and while he would have received a ban from the NCAA, instead he gets to walk away from that and make a lot more many than most of us will in the NBA.
I wish McGary the best of luck at the next level. This was a sad end to what could have been a great career here at Michigan.