ATLANTA JOURNAL- As Georgia prepares to begin preseason football practices Thursday, Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston remains ineligible to compete for the Bulldogs, the school confirmed Thursday.
Houston, a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle from Buford, was ineligible last season due to what Georgia would say is only was “an NCAA issue.” But according to 10 pages of documents and letters released to the AJC on Thursday, Houston has been actively appealing a positive NCAA test for a banned substance since April of 2010. At that time, Houston was informed he had tested positive for “19-norandrosterone” — a steroid — in a random drug screening.
According to appeals documents filed with the NCAA and president Mark Emmert, Houston has continued to test positive since then, though the school and family contend there has been no re-use of the substance and the levels have declined to the point of being disadvantageous. Houston reportedly was administered the steroid after surgery for a high school shoulder injury.
According to UGA, Houston will be able to continue to practice but will be unable to play until he’s able to produce a clean test.
Georgia coach Mark Richt, who has been asked about Houston’s availability repeatedly since last fall, finally addressed the situation openly Thursday at the team’s preseason news conference.
“It’s been a difficult situation for Kolton and his family and us as coaches, continuing to assume it’s gonna get out of there but it just hasn’t. You’ve been asking me questions for a while and I’ve been saying, ‘Hopefully we’ll be ready to go.’ Well, he’s still not ready to go. It could happen any time really.”
Houston is listed as the No. 1 right tackle heading into preseason camp. Initially Richt said sophomore Watts Dantzler will step into the starting position with true freshman John Theus competing for playing time.
The Houston family approved the release of the documents, which otherwise would be protected by federal privacy laws. Family lawyers and Georgia have continued to appeal the case.
The latest appeal came on July 12 when athletic director Greg McGarity sent a personal letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert:
“Mr. Houston, his parents and our staff acknowledge the fact that the results of that test severely impacted his ability to compete as a student-athlete at UGA, and the Houston family accepted the responsibility for this unfortunate situation. Since the initial test confirmation on April 13, 2010, Mr. Houston has been tested very frequently by the NCAA and UGA, and there is scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates that there has been no re-use over the past 2 1/2 years. While we have fought for Mr. Houston’s restoration of eligibility through every imaginable NCAA process available without any success, we will maintain our effort to see this through to the very end. It is disappointing to witness this scenario play out for 2 1/2 years with Mr. Houston’s eligibility in question. . . . We are appealing to you on behalf of the young man who has done everything possible to clear himself.”