By LARRY VAUGHT
No way could this be true.
On my way to the Class A state track meet in Louisville Saturday, I got a phone call telling me that Jeremy JarmonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s football career at Kentucky was over because of a positive drug test.
Jarmon? No way.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of the most articulate, positive, caring and conscientious players I have ever known at Kentucky. He takes great pride in his value as a role model and team leader. He goes out of his way to do community service work and has been a huge ambassador for Kentucky football.
He had turned down a chance to enter the NFL draft to return to Kentucky for his senior season and hopefully help the Wildcats reach a fourth straight bowl game. He was once again going to anchor the defense from his end position and at the same time work to enhance his draft status.
Now his career is over.
He held an emotional press conference Saturday in Lexington with athletics director Mitch Barnhart. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there, but I intently watched the live feed on the Internet.
Once I found out what I had heard was true, I was almost glad I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there. When Jarmon cried as he read from a prepared statement, my heart ached for him.
He had Ã¢â‚¬Å“inadvertentlyÃ¢â‚¬Â taken a banned substance, and tested positive during a random NCAA test in February. He took a supplement he legally purchased while recovering from a shoulder injury when he was not working out with the team in offseason workouts. When he checked with the UK training staff about the supplement, he was told to stop taking it. However, the NCAA banned substance showed up in a drug test. A second drug test six weeks later after he stopped taking the supplement was negative.
But it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter. The damage was done. The NCAA denied UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appeal and the one-year suspension ends his career since he had already been redshirted as a freshman because of an injury.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My fans and teammates will be disappointed when news of this spreads, but no one can be more disappointed than me. … I was born a Kentucky fan, I will die a Kentucky fan, I will be a Wildcat for life,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jarmon said.
It had to take enormous courage, and class, to show up for the press conference. Even though he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t field any questions, many athletes would have not shown up to admit their mistake even if it was an accidental one.
He knows this will tarnish the image heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worked so hard at UK to build. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a political science major, accomplished actor and eventually hopes to go into politics. It also leaves him with few options for next season about a professional future.
If he had kept his name in the draft, none of this likely would have ever come out. He would have been drafted, a NFL team would have seen the report and he would have faced a punishment far less severe than what the NCAA gave him.
JarmonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss is a big blow to the Kentucky football team. However, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the big issue here. What matters is that a young man who has stayed out of trouble to pursue his academic and athletic dreams has now had his career derailed by a seemingly innocent mistake.
If anyone can overcome this debacle, it could be Jarmon. However, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to even think about that today after watching a player IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come to know and like so well have to endure the emotional and mental anguish he did Saturday and will for a long, long time to come.