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Texas’ Charlie Strong Cleaning Up Program; Abundant Drug Tests

Charlie Strong took over as the first Black coach at the University of Texas with the intent on rebuilding the program and cleaning it up. He’s well on his way in the latter.

Since taking over in January, Strong’s Longhorns are on pace to double last year’s testing efforts, according to a report by the Austin American-Statesman.

Data obtained by the Statesman indicate that a total of 188 drug tests have been administered in the first eight months of Strong’s tenure. From 2010 to 2013, Texas administered an average of 104 drug tests per year under former coach Mack Brown.

Strong has dismissed nine players from the program since taking over in January and has two more players suspended from the team for undisclosed rules violations.

According to data the newspaper acquired through an open records request, Texas drug tested every player after spring break in March. Players who were considered at-risk were then subject to more frequent testing.

A total of 18 Longhorns players were tested again April 11, and 15 were tested July 19 during summer conditioning. Five days after that round of testing, three Texas players — running backs Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins — were dismissed from the program for violating team rules. Three more players were suspended indefinitely.

When asked Tuesday if he expected to have to mete out this much discipline when he took the Texas job, Strong said, “I would say this: I followed an unbelievable head coach and there’s nothing here that’s nowhere else.”

Texas continued to drug test during fall practice — two tests Aug. 11, seven Aug. 22 — and seven tests were administered the day before the Longhorns’ season-opening win over North Texas.

Shortly after the final preseason drug test, Strong suspended starting linemen Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle  indefinitely and kicked backup linebacker Deoundrei Davis off the team. Estelle was dismissed from the program Tuesday after another rules violation.

“You have 95 percent that’s doing it right, and then you just have that small faction of guys that feel like this is the way they’re going to do it whether I like it or not,” Strong said Tuesday. “I just tell them that there’s always other teams out there, but this isn’t the school for them. You can think about it: The University of Texas, great academics, great athletics, what more could you ask for?”

The data obtained by the Statesman does not indicate how many players tested positive for drugs. Texas’ student-athlete handbook for 2014-15 says that players are subject to a suspension for 10 percent of their season and counseling upon a second positive test. A third positive test would require a half-season suspension along with counseling, and the punishment for a fourth positive test is dismissal.

Texas has now spent $8,755 on drug testing this year, according to the report, after spending approximately $5,100 to $6,600 annually on the practice in the past four years.

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