Mitch Barnhart Opening Statement and Q&A
“I appreciate everyone being here. I apologize for it being Saturday morning, as (UK SID) Tony (Neely) said Coach (Rich) Brooks is out of town. It’s unfortunate, we’re called here today. Jeremy (Jarmon) has been through a tough month or so.
We’ve been informed that he tested positive to an NCAA banned substance and the penalty for that is loss of eligibility for one year. With one year left on his eligibility clock with the NCAA, his career at Kentucky is concluded. We appealed that decision and that appeal was denied.
Normally, we would not have a press conference to discuss this kind of issue, but Jeremy requested the opportunity to speak to it and with all the contributions and the things he’s given this program, we felt he earned and deserved the right to do that. The way he had represented this program and how much it meant to him, we wanted to make sure that he had the opportunity to speak to the people he loves dearly in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the fans that have supported him, his teammates, coaches and staff.
He is a graduate of this program; he is no longer with this program, he could have graduated in three and a half years. It took a little extra time and he graduated in four, he’s (getting ready) to leave to go study abroad in France. He has been a tremendous leader. His smile has graced our program and practice fields and locker rooms and I’ll speak a more to that in a little bit. We’re appreciative of what he’s contributed to this program.
He doesn’t have to do this today; he’s not required to be here, but it’s something he wanted to do. He wanted to talk about his thought process, and what’s going on in his life. I wanted to give him the opportunity to do that, as did Coach Brooks. At this time, I’m going to turn it over to him. He’s sharing more with you than is necessary, for that reason, he’s going to just share his story; he’s not going to take any questions. Afterwards, I’ll close it down and if there are any questions at that point, I’ll be glad to take them.”
Jeremy Jarmon Statement …
“Today I am here to announce that I will no longer participate in athletics at the University of Kentucky. Ever since I was six years old I knew that I wanted to attend the University of Kentucky and that dream has come true for me. I knew I wanted to graduate from high school and attend the University of Kentucky. This has also come true for me. This is something that I will never forget. This dream has come true for me and I have attended and graduated from my dream college.
I will never forget Coach Brooks and Coach Ortmayer sitting down in my home and offering me an opportunity to come to the University of Kentucky and help turn around a program that has been struggling. On that day when Coach Brooks offered me a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, I accepted his offer to be a part of his program. With an extremely dedicated coaching staff and strong-willed guys that were alongside myself, we turned around a program that has seen three consecutive bowl game wins and this is something that I am proud of and will never forget.
Today I am not here to discuss the name of the substance that I took nor the place that I got it from. Instead I am here to discuss the choice that I made to live a healthier life, how I attempted to do this, and the decisions that I made to reach this point. However, one poor decision has cost me my collegiate eligibility.
An NCAA appeals panel consisting of representatives from member institutions decided my fate on Thursday May 21, 2009 at approximately 6:00 p.m. During an NCAA drug test given on February 24, 2009, I tested positive for a banned substance. Based on precedence, the appeals panel found that I was responsible for testing positive. Had they ruled that I did not have significant fault then I would have received a half year suspension or been restored my complete eligibility.
The information that I am telling you today is the truth, documentation supports the claims that we made to the NCAA Appeals Panel and personnel from the university will concur that this is case as well.
I officially started my diet as a New Year’s resolution to myself. My goal was to drop from 286 pounds to around 275 pounds by losing body fat and becoming leaner. I have not yet reached my goal but I am a mere two pounds away. My mom was the first person to help me with my new decision. She began by cooking meals while I was home during the offseason that were low in fat and more healthy than what I had been eating back at college.
After consulting with the strength and conditioning department, I asked my mom to buy me Omega-3 and fish oil pills and she did. I began this in December and have continued to the present.
The most difficult goal that I faced was to continue to eat healthy while at college. For the past four months I have purchased turkey burgers, turkey sausage and turkey bacon as a healthier alternative to beef. Receipts from the past several months clearly show this. Since I have started my diet I have lost nine pounds. I have reduced my body fat percentage from 14 percent last year to 11 percent this year. This is something that I am very proud of. I have worked hard to become a healthier person, overall.
In January, I walked into a vitamin/supplement store to find a vitamin supplement containing amino acids. I purchased this vitamin supplement but I also purchased another supplement that was suggested to me by the salesperson. It was a dietary supplement that could help make you lean and I purchased both of them. However, my only purpose that day was to buy a vitamin not any other supplement. I became aware over the process that we can be provided with only basic vitamins because of NCAA rules.
Also in January, as part of my new diet, I purchased a different protein shake because the one UK is allowed to provide us - is a good shake - but contains a high concentration of sugar and calories. I wanted to improve my health by putting high quality foods and supplements in my body. I decided to purchase an alternate protein shake other than what is allowed to be given to us by university per NCAA rules. The shakes given to us contain 32 grams of sugar and around 300 calories. The shake that I take now contains approximately 130 calories, 20 grams of protein, and less than one gram of sugar. I made a great effort to consume the best overall products that I could under NCAA rules.
On February 2, I implemented the supplement suggested to me by the salesperson into my diet. I made the decision to purchase this supplement. I made the decision to use this supplement.
Over the past four years I have established a great relationship with the athletic staff here at the University of Kentucky. I have always kept the staff informed with details of what I was considering taking. I always had full intentions of telling the staff exactly what I was taking at an earlier date, but I was occupied with rehabbing and when I finally decided to inform the staff of my decision to take this supplement it was too late.
From the last week in January until right before March 16, I had been rehabbing my shoulder from the previous season. This is thoroughly documented. With the worry of surgery and a busy schedule leading up to graduation, I had not spoken with our strength and conditioning staff about taking this supplement. This is something that I had always done previously. I had been taking the supplement approximately 15 days before I finally did go to our head trainer and tell him that I had been taking this supplement and had forgotten to talk to our strength and conditioning staff about it. I eventually did get around to telling someone what I was taking but it was too late.
On February 20, I received a cortisone shot in my left shoulder and I discussed later with our trainer if anything that I was taking would interfere with my cortisone shot. We discussed what I was taking and where I purchased everything. He recommended that I immediately stop taking it. Four days later the NCAA came into Lexington and did a random drug test and I was selected. I would find out after coming back from spring break that I had tested positive. My strength and conditioning coach knew I was taking an alternate protein drink, the fish oil, and the Omega-3.
In late January I was informed by our training staff that I would be restricted from activity. Our head trainer decided to take me out of normal activity for two to three weeks to monitor how my shoulder would respond. My shoulder did not respond accordingly. I went to the doctor on February 20th and he injected me with a cortisone shot in my shoulder. He informed me that I was not to engage in activity that would bother my shoulder. I was diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis. From January 29 to March 22, I did not exercise or lift weights. This time period for me was very upsetting because I was hurt and restricted from activity. Our strength coach is the person I confide in and use to gain information about supplements. Because of the injury, I was not in the weight room to have those normal conversations with our strength coach.
Injuries alienate athletes from the team and change the times that a person is even at the facilities. January 21 to March 22 was a setback for me as a person and as an athlete. I have everything to lose by taking a banned substance. That is the reason why I have been so careful up until this point. My thought process during this period was to be even more conscious of how much I was eating because I was restricted from most activities. I continued to take the vitamins and other supplements because they are all dietary supplements.
My 1st test results showed that I tested positive for a banned substance from the dietary supplement that I purchased along with the vitamins. I did not know that this supplement contained a banned substance. However, it was my responsibility to research this before I bought it or have it looked at by someone in our athletic facilities. All athletes at the University of Kentucky are well informed about the consequences of purchasing a supplement like I did.
Every year we go through programs that outline and explain the rules. Clearly, I did not follow those rules on this one occasion. Every citizen in the United States faces a risk of taking an unknown substance when they walk into any store that sells vitamins, minerals, etc. Every athlete in the world faces the risk of suspension for taking a substance that has not been approved.
My goal of dieting was to prove to myself that I can control my eating habits and live a healthier life. I never intended to take a banned substance or gain any improper type of competitive advantage. I could not gain a competitive advantage if I was not even healthy to do so. The NCAA randomly tested me again six weeks after the positive test and my results were negative. The substance was no longer in my system. This shows that I had not been taking the substance long and most importantly that this was not the type of banned substance that remains in your system for a long period of time.
I do not need to cheat to be successful. I am a very self confident person. I have worked so hard my last year to finish up strong and be a representative for our senior class to show the younger guys that with hard work and pride anyone can reach their goals. Now, I feel better physically because I have made sacrifices that are hard for others to make and it will pay off for me whether it is on the football field or off the football field next season.
This dietary plan will carry over for me when I leave college. My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. Injuries are a part of football and I have opened my eyes to the fact that the way I live my life is very important. I am a person who is extremely motivated and extremely strong willed. I had an opportunity to graduate early in December and leave college. However, I decided I would stretch out my classes and announce a second major. I come from a family with two parents who are military veterans and they have worked hard to become successful individuals in society. My desire is to become a successful individual in society as well. So far, I have shown people that I am a dedicated person.
This situation has cost me my eligibility as an athlete. I accept full responsibility for my decision to purchase this supplement. I am a young person that has made mistakes in my life but I have learned from them. I am going to make more mistakes in my life and I will learn from those too. I am certain that UK will ask me to come in and speak on different occasions about the problems with taking supplements. Hopefully, this will catch the attention of not only collegiate athletes, high school athletes, professional athletes, but just ordinary hard working people as well. This is not a situation that I want to forget about or run away from. I want to learn from this mistake and I want others to learn from my mistake as well. I have not spoken to the team, but I plan to do so when everyone is required to report back in June.
I will be leaving the country next Friday to further pursue my French studies. Coach Brooks and I have discussed several possibilities about my future. I may pursue a career with the NFL or come back to school and finish my second major. I am going to take some time to consider what I will do. At this time, I would like to thank the University of Kentucky for everything they have done for me since I have been here. I have memories over the past four years that I will cherish forever. Mr. Barnhart and Ms. Bell have been working with me through this process and they have done an excellent job. They have both been part of my family. They have represented me throughout this process. Coach Brooks is an absolutely amazing person. Our relationship has evolved so much over the past few years.
My fans and teammates will be disappointed when the news of this spreads. However, no one can be more disappointed than me. I was a leader on the team and I participated in the community. I will continue to be a part of the UK athletic department and volunteer in the community. The memories that I have gotten from my fans and my teammates will never be forgotten. I owe the state of Kentucky, the city of Lexington, and my fans everything that I have to offer. You truly have made me a successful person and I feel loved. I was born a Kentucky fan and I will die a Kentucky fan. I will be a Wildcat for life.”
Mitch Barnhart Closing Statement
“This guy has given an awful lot to this place. It’s in his heart, he loves it, you’ve seen him play on the field, off the field he’s been amazing as well. I can speak for Coach Brooks, Coach (Joker) Phillips, Coach (Steve) Brown, Coach (Rick) Petri and the department to tell you, it breaks our heart that we won’t be able to see him play next year. Not from a competitive perspective, but because he’s that good of a guy.
We went to a bowl game last year, I’ve never seen a guy more excited to go home and play in front of his hometown fans. It meant a lot for him to be able to take his team to his hometown, and we got a chance to do that. I’m thankful for that, that we got to do it before his career ended. I’m proud of Jeremy Jarmon, the way he’s represented the face of this program, as a student-athlete at Kentucky, he’s done everything anyone could have ever asked.
It’s unfortunate that it came to a close this way and not the way you dream of. But this isn’t the last thing you’ll hear of Jeremy Jarmon, he will do great things because of who he is and what he represents. He’s a bright young man, who just happens to be gifted athletically. He’ll do well, whether that’s in business or on the field; this is a small setback for him. But one he will clearly overcome. It takes quite a guy to stand up here and talk about it; I know a lot of athletes that would never even think to begin to take that on. Here’s a guy, fresh out of college, willing to set the record straight and send the message to other young people how to manage, what not to do, what not to get caught up in. I admire him for that.
The NCAA rules are the rules we all live by. They’re consistent based on precedent and we’ve got to honor those. It may not always feel right, but there is precedent and it is consistent. Having said that, we’ll move on and do the best we can to support Jeremy as he moves on. We want him to know how proud we are of him as an alum of this program; we want to have a chance to watch him succeed and participate with him as he moves on in his life. The message is clear to other student-athletes, professional athletes, young high school athletes. If you don’t know what it is, you can’t take it; you can’t put yourself at risk. It can happen to anyone in any way, shape or form.
For our football program, unfortunately, we’ll have to treat this as a season-ending injury for a player that won’t be available to us because of circumstances. He’ll be sorely missed on the football field as well, because we know how talented he is, but I know he’ll have another opportunity to put his hand on the ground and play the game he loves; at least I hope someone will be smart enough to give him that chance.
He’s deserving, he’s capable and a great young man. If there are any questions for me, I’ll take a couple questions. If there are not, we’re going to let Jeremy get on back to Memphis to be with his family. It’s been a tough 48 hours obviously.”
Mitch Barnhart Q&A
Q: Is there any leniency from the NCAA on what seems to have been an accident?
“There is case precedent that they run off of. There is a committee and an appeal process and we have gone through all of that. It is an anonymous process for a variety of reasons because they don’t want it to be subjective. It is a very anonymous process and that is the right way to manage that. Unfortunately, the appeal was denied. There is some middle ground that can be taken if they felt like it was appropriate and they did not feel like it was appropriate in this case based on the fact that we have procedures in place to get information on supplements that are being taken.”
Q: Who sits on the appeals committee?
“I can’t speak to each individual, but it is basically trainers, administrators for other institutions within the NCAA.”
Q: Mitch, having gone through this particular situation do you think there needs to be a change in how this process works?
“I would like to step back from it a little bit and take a look at it. I don’t know want to say that they have been unfair, but they have been consistent. They have never wavered from this kind of a ruling. We had hopes that there were some extenuating circumstances that they would look at but that was not the case. I do think that there are a couple of issues that do need to be raised, but I will raise them with them first before raising them publicly and I think that is the right way to do that, at this time.”
Q: Are you confident that this is an isolated incident, or will you go talk to the other players?
“Our education process is pretty significant. I think that Jeremy will attest to the fact, and he did in his statement, that we talk about it a lot. We talk about it in individual team meetings, we speak about it a student athlete orientations and it is in their handbook. Our trainers and strength and conditioning staff talk about it continuing. Our drug education program is significant. The challenge in today’s world is that there is a lot out there. Trying to control all of that can be difficult. That is why we say don’t put anything into your mouth until you are really, really sure what it contains. Ninety-nine time out of 100, when they bring something to our trainers the answer is no. I am just using that as a figure, I may be off but you pretty much know that you have to get used to that answer. If we have athletes out in our program that don’t receive the message after today, then I don’t know what they need to hear because here is one of the best of the best that got caught in a unfortunate set of circumstances that cost him his final year of eligibility. The message has been clear, and I hope that they hear the message but there are no guarantees in that.”
Q: How does the process of random drug testing work?
“The NCAA goes through and picks out athletes in your program. It is not restricted to football, but all sports. They may pick them off a roster or may say, ‘Here is your 85 scholarship football players and 13 scholarship basketball players and so many tracks.’ They will just take the roster and start to pick them out. It may not be the same person. We each have our own internal drug testing program that we do. We test about 1500-to-1800 times a year. Then the NCAA has a drug testing program that they use which coincides with our drug testing program. They test Fall semester, Spring semester, Summer and postseason play. They have the ability to come in anytime and have a list that says that these people need to participate in random drug testing. We do ours randomly off the computer by social security number.”
Q: How many scholarship athletes this year were randomly drug tested?
“We test in every sport, the NCAA varies from time to time. This time I think there were 38 football players. It is a variety of sports. They will come in and test 40-50-60 kids at a time, but they only come in a couple times a year usually. The radar gun is out there and they do that purposefully. It is a very expensive test and it is part of the process and the world that we live in.”
Q: Just to be clear, did their test verify that it was something found in the dietary supplement?
“Yes. Let me be abundantly clear, this guy has been a model of discipline for our program. He has never had a disciplinary action and he has never even come close to failing the test before. It has never been an issue. This is a three week isolated deal that is very unfortunate. He has been unbelievable for the University of Kentucky. Do not lose sight of that. I don’t know anyone that could represent this program better than he has in a lot of different ways and I am thankful for that and that he knows that.”