The career of University of Kentucky football star Jeremy Jarmon has come to an abrupt end after he tested positive for a substance banned by the NCAA and was ruled ineligible for his senior season.
Jarmon's result was positive in a random NCAA test conducted Feb. 24. The penalty for a positive test is a loss of one year of eligibility. The university filed an appeal for reinstatement on Jarmon's behalf in March, but that appeal was denied Thursday night.
Jarmon requested a news conference to address the situation Saturday and read a prepared statement. Jarmon was in tears by the end of his statement and did not take questions from the media.
"One poor decision has cost me my collegiate eligibility," Jarmon said.
Jarmon, a defensive end, played in 38 games with 31 starts over three seasons at Kentucky. As a junior, he made 38 tackles with 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 quarterback sacks and six pass breakups. He was a second-team All-Southeastern Conference pick by the league's coaches as a sophomore when he had 62 tackles, 131/2 tackles for loss and nine sacks. His 171/2 career sacks rank third in school history.
Jarmon did not name the substance he tested positive for, but said he bought and began taking an over-the-counter dietary supplement in February with a goal of becoming leaner. He said he had made a commitment to lose weight in January, which was when he purchased the supplement. He said he began taking the supplement Feb. 2.
Jarmon was listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds when he enrolled at UK in 2005, and the 2008 media guide listed his weight at 277. He said he weighed 286 pounds at the time he started using the supplement and had hoped to get to 275.
"I made the decision to purchase this supplement; I made the decision to use this supplement," Jarmon said.
Jarmon said he normally informs the UK strength and conditioning staff before taking a supplement but said he didn't participate in any off-season weight lifting or conditioning drills from Jan. 29 to March 22 after being diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis.
"This time period for me was very upsetting because I was hurt and restricted from activity," Jarmon said. "Our strength coach (Marc Hill) 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."
Jarmon received a cortisone shot in his left shoulder Feb. 20 and then informed UK head trainer Jim Madaleno that he had been on the supplement.
"I eventually did get around to telling someone what I was taking, but it was too late," Jarmon said.
Jarmon said Madaleno told him to stop taking the supplement immediately, but the NCAA came to Lexington for a random drug test four days later, and Jarmon was selected.
Jarmon said he wasn't aware that the supplement he was taking contained a banned substance.
"It was my responsibility to research this before I bought it or have it looked at by someone in our athletic facilities," Jarmon said. "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."
Jarmon said the NCAA tested him again six weeks after the positive test and the results were negative.
"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," he said.
UK Coach Rich Brooks was out of town during the news conference but issued a statement through the school.
"My first concern is with Jeremy and his family and what a devastating blow this is for them," Brooks said. "There was no intent by Jeremy to do anything improper; it was an error in judgment in not checking with our staff (before taking the supplement).
"Jeremy has been an outstanding individual on and off the football field, and I hope people understand what a class act he has been."
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart sat alongside Jarmon at the news conference and lauded him for his contributions to the program.
One of the more personable athletes on campus, Jarmon was a solid student who also starred in a UK theater production of the play Weak/Side/Help.
"Let me be abundantly clear, this guy has been a model of discipline for our program," Barnhart said. "He has never had a disciplinary action, and he has never even come close to failing a test before. It has never been an issue. ... 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."
Barnhart also applauded Jarmon for requesting a news conference to address the situation.
"It's unfortunate that it came to a close this way and not the way you dream of," Barnhart said. "But this isn't the last you'll hear of Jeremy Jarmon; he will do great things because of who he is and what he represents."
It is the first time during Barnhart's seven-year tenure that a student-athlete has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for testing positive for a banned substance.
"Our drug education program is significant," Barnhart said. "We talk about it in individual team meetings, we speak about it at student-athlete orientations, and it is in their handbook. The challenge in today's world is that there is a lot out there. 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 an unfortunate set of circumstances that cost him his final year of eligibility."
Jarmon has completed his degree in political science and will study in France this summer as he works toward a second major. Jarmon considered skipping his final year of eligibility for the NFL Draft, which was held in April, but announced in January that he would return to UK for his senior year.
One potential option for Jarmon is the NFL Supplemental Draft, which is held in July for players who have lost their eligibility between the regular April draft and the beginning of the next season, often due to academics or legal troubles.
Jarmon will be in France for five weeks and said he'll take some time before considering his next move. He's not eligible to sign as an NFL free agent this summer, but can be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft if he decides not to pursue the July supplemental draft.
"My fans and teammates will be disappointed when the news of this spreads," Jarmon said. "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."