A choked up Will Grier took the microphone Monday to apologize for hurting teammates and fans of the No. 8 Florida Gators after it was discovered Sunday that he tested positive for a banned substance and would be suspended for up to a full year by the NCAA.
“I took an over-the-counter supplement that had something in it, and I did not check with the medical staff before taking it,” explained Grier, fighting back tears. “I really hope that people can learn from this, learn from my mistake. I’m really sorry to everyone, just really sorry.”
Head coach Jim McElwain opened Monday’s press conference with a similar sentiment.
“Will Grier won’t play this week and obviously in the near future due to taking a supplement, an over-the-counter supplement that had something in it that was on the NCAA list of things that you can’t have,” he began. “It’s something that he feels horrible about. It’s an honest mistake, and yet, can be prevented by just checking with our medical staff. I want everybody to understand that this is a mistake we’ll learn from.”
He continued: “Obviously, this is hard. I don’t want anybody to forget, we’re in this for these young men. We feel for him; we feel his pain. He had a chance to address the team and spoke from the heart. One of the things he expressed … is the opportunity you have to maybe affect somebody else’s life and understand that we can learn from this.”
“As a university, we will appeal this, and we support Will, his family obviously in every way possible. And yet, we also know there’s certain steps that go along the way.”
What the Gators will appeal is not the suspension itself but rather its length. NCAA bylaws mandate that any player who violates the league’s banned substance policy be suspended for one full calendar year (365 days). Florida is expected to request from the NCAA that, because Grier made a mistake and took a supplement accidentally, it reduce his suspension to the remainder of the 2015 season. It will also request Grier’s ‘B sample’ be tested to confirm the NCAA’s results.
Should the appeal be denied, Grier will be forced to sit for the first six games of the 2016 campaign, when he will be a redshirt sophomore.
Grier will continue practicing with the Gators in the meantime but will not be eligible to travel with the team for away games.
“Before you even take cough medicine, you’ve got to check with the medical staff,” McElwain added. “Check with the medical staff before you put anything in your body. … You got to know what you put in your body.”