Mitch McGary to enter NBA Draft after facing one-year suspension

Dylan Burkhardt

Iowa-State-77-Michigan-70-13[1]Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel first reported that Mitch McGary is headed to the NBA Draft after facing a 1 year suspension for failing a NCAA-mandated drug test during the NCAA tournament. This was confirmed in a University of Michigan press release below.

“Mitch has had a tremendous impact on our program from the moment he committed to us,” said Beilein. “He has injected an enthusiasm that cannot be matched. This is why he is loved by the coaching staff, his teammates and Wolverine fans. The progress he has made on and off the court has been outstanding. His willingness to face a personal issue head on and his positive work ethic during his recent injury have helped him to grow in many ways. We know that he will put all of his energy and effort toward achieving his goals. We will continue to assist and support Mitch as he pursues a career in the NBA.”

“My family and I want to thank everyone for giving us privacy and the time to make this decision,” said McGary. “As you know, it was important for us to weigh all the factors that go into something like this. With that being said, I am ready to move on to the next stage in my life and enter the NBA Draft.

“Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.

“I take full responsibility for this poor choice and want to apologize to everyone, especially those I have grown close to during my fabulous two years at the University of Michigan.

“I love the University of Michigan and all it has allowed me to do. I have had my ups and downs, especially with my injury this season. I want to thank all the fans for embracing me. This has been the best two years of my life and I have some unbelievable memories. I know that I will be a Wolverine forever. Go Blue.”

The 6-foot-10 sophomore won the hearts of Michigan fans in March of 2013 as he led the Wolverines to the Final Four, but his sophomore season didn’t go as planned. He started the season sidelined with a back injury before playing eight games, only to opt to undergo season ending back surgery in late December. 

Reportedly healthy and back to working out, McGary opted to declare for the draft. McGary is projected as a late first round pick despite missing most of his sophomore season.

McGary is the third member of Michigan’s 2012 class to declare for the NBA Draft. Michigan also lost Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III to the NBA Draft last week. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

  • sane1

    Why wouldn’t he have declared right away then? Why wait? I guess I don’t get it?

    • ZRL

      Maybe he wanted to come back and was trying to appeal the suspension?

    • Appeal and then probably figuring out how to announce it.

  • tgio24

    What a joke…what was he debating if he wasn’t going to be able to play next year anyways..???

    • kam

      He tried to appeal it

  • “The NCAA’s denial became even more confusing when on April 15, just days after the appellate ruling, its legislative council agreed a full-season ban was too strong for a first-time recreational drug failure. It changed NCAA policy and lowered the penalty to half a season.”

    • Burke_Does_Work

      I don’t know what the typical protocol of a failed drug test is (especially one due to marijuana as opposed to PEDs, etc.), but even half a season seems unnecessarily harsh. A couple of games seems like the most he should be suspended for something like this.

  • tgio24

    is he allowed to play in NBA right away?

  • Burke_Does_Work

    Based on this new information, it kind of gives you the feel that Mitch would’ve been coming back next year if not for this ban placed on him by the NCAA. Bummer man, he’s really going to be missed, especially now that we lose all our bigs (not including Max) in the matter of one offseason. The thing that really sucks is that aside from the 6 games in the 2013 NCAA tourney, we never got to see him play at/near his potential. We barely even got to see him play and now he’s already gone. I’m sad.

  • Northern blue

    Good luck Mitch. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see enough of you in a Michigan uniform, but hopefully we will see much more of you in the league. Also, must note that that is a pretty harsh penalty for a drug that is legal in some places and out of all university students the ones that don’t try marijuana are in the minority not the other way around. I’m sure glad I didn’t need to go through a random drug test to stay enrolled in courses in my university days.

  • Kelley

    Decision was made with the 1-year suspension by NCAA. Lost appeal, so it was a done deal. Bye, Mitch. Stauskas and GR3 hurt, but your announcement actually made me tear up. You were the heart and soul of this team in so many ways, even when you weren’t playing, you were a catalyst. Good luck in the NBA: Win The Game! :) Go Blue Forever!

  • McGary and Beilein video interview

  • kam

    sooo basically it sounds like he would have been back but theres no point coming back just to sit out..

  • Chezaroo

    Have to wonder if Mitch hadn’t suited up for some NCAA tourney games would he have still been tested? Or does the NCAA test the whole roster even if your in street clothes? Oh well, best of luck big man, no doubt you’ll make it if healthy.

    • Wetzel report says they could test anyone — dressed or not. All random.

      • BlueGuest

        And they can even test an injured player back on campus who did not travel to a game, as well as test everyone in the school’s “traveling party” – ? WTH, NCAA: OUT OF CONTROL.

  • Mattski

    Wow. Having been around some high-level athletes for a time during grad school. I am very sympathetic to athletes using weed. Especially young guys who can be very jittery, the calming effect can really help them. Guys who are little bit ADHD. . . still more. I am bummed for Mitch, and bummed that it worked out this way. Also have to say that if he knew he was gonna be tested, which he may not have. . .

    GRIII, Stauskas, Burke, Hardaway, Morris, Manny–at least we got to see those guys play. Selfishly would have loved to see Mitch in some games.

  • David Remmler

    More proof the NCAA is an evil monstrosity. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. It is safer than alcohol and tobacco which are both legal. It is safer than prescription narcotics. It is even arguably much safer than ibuprofen ( which causes kidney failure and stomach ulcers), aspirin (which causes stomach ulcers as well as kidney failure and even death in an OD) and Tylenol (which causes liver failure in an OD). You literally can’t OD on marijuana.

    As a physician, I felt I had to put in my 2 cents on the issue.

    I wish McGary could sue the NCAA over this nonsense.

    Maybe it’s best that he does go pro rather than have to deal with such nonsense.

    • Kenny

      It is legal in 21 states and DC and Canada for medical use, and 14 states are going to join them soon than later.

      I am sure that some one is going to bring a law suit against NBA, NFL or NCAA for violating their right of using marijuana for medical purpose.

  • mistersuits

    Why, Jon Horford, why?

    • chazer

      I understand why he departed regarding the guard oriented offensive scheme but that’s been JB’s strategy for some time. Seems like there’s more to the story….can he really shine in another program over the next 9 months? As an outsider, I would think his playing time and exposure would have been maximized at Michigan.
      It’s going to be a freaking battle to win the boards next year. Rain the three’s and run, run, run!

      • eddieben

        What’s even more confounding is Horford’s decision was on April 10 when he KNEW he would get more playing time based on the timeline revealed in the Yahoo article. This, coupled with his bashing of the program, makes me wish he was the one tested.

    • salama

      I`m sure he had his reasons, but good lord. He`d be looking at 30 minutes a game as the starting 5 on a team that could win the Big 10.

  • robpollard

    This is why athletes need a union. This kind of ridiculous, disproportionate penalty makes absolutely no sense. It is “demon weed / reefer madness” type hysteria.
    A freaking year for smoking pot on your own time, harming no one? Derrick Nix got caught with drugs in a car, was arrested & put in jail, and missed precisely zero games. Others drive while intoxicated (too many to mention, unfortunately, including numerous UM football players) and miss a few practices or maybe a game.

    That should be reversed — if you put other people’s lives in danger (e.g., DWI), it should be much more missed time than simply failing some random sideline drug test.
    The NCAA needs to go down, and I am glad it is, one cut at a time. But it will be a long process, and in the meantime, McGary gets a ridiculous penalty and changes his career.

  • Robert Weiner

    Do they know if they just tested him or the whole team? Seems random of all randoms to just test him unless the NCAA was trying to “gotcha” him – thinking here’s a guy who’s been injured and probably not adhering to rules and is a big name to make an example of.

  • JVS

    Really respect the way Mitch/JB/Michigan handled this proactively. Could have kept it quiet, but didn’t, and I think that deserves the praise its getting.

    Feel for Mitch, always seems to have trouble staying out of his own way, and hope he can get it all together for workouts and give the right impression in interviews. M fans, while surprised, probably view him more positively at this stage since the decision was effectively taken out of his hands.

    After Embiid, the pool of bigs in the draft is really soft with Harrell, WCS, Dakari all coming back. He has a decent chance for the first round/guaranteed $.

    Given our inability to attract bigs to this offense, this feels like a huge wasted opportunity. We will need another Mitch to take a leap of faith that we can feature them in the right way, nothing on the immediate horizon though.

    We will have the same Nov reshuffle, role crystallization in Dec, doubt in Jan, and meshing after we saw this year. B1G title looking unlikely, but Walton’s ability to generate offense through others w/o such a high dependency on the 3 will be crucial.

    • Dan

      Don’t think we’ll ever see a big man with Mitch’s hands. Incredible.

      • MAZS

        Webber had them too–but I share your sentiment.

  • Champswest

    I am disappointed that Mitch won’t be back, but I don’t feel sorry for him and I don’t hate on the NCAA for the penalty. I am sure all the players know the rules and the penalties. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. At least Mitch is facing the situation and taking responsibility for his own actions. Hopefully, this will be a teachable moment for everyone.

  • Kenny

    The marijuana policy in sports is absurd when it is legal for medical use in Michigan and other 21 states, and Canada, and 14 states are on the way to legalize it. I wonder if Mitch had a medical subscription.

    • Indiana_Matt

      Doesn’t sound like it.

  • Dustin Stone

    I feel completely sucker punched…unlike Glenn and Nik, we never saw the full potential of this kid… Screw the NCAA and there making the rules up as they go along-ass backward ways

  • eddieben

    I feel similar to how I felt when Jamal Crawford’s hand was forced 10+ years ago.

    • David Remmler

      Agreed. That was a disgraceful circus and also showed how the NCAA abuses its power.

      • Chris De Sana

        This thought process cracks me up.

  • Indiana_Matt


    Loved Mitch. Was really excited by the idea of seeing him as a Wolverine for one more year.

    This part is interesting…

    “The NCAA’s denial became even more confusing when on April 15, just days after the appellate ruling, its legislative council agreed a full-season ban was too strong for a first-time recreational drug failure. It changed NCAA policy and lowered the penalty to half a season.”

    Gotta love the NCAA.

    • David Remmler

      Yeah, I would have loved to be at that meeting. I can picture the head if the committee saying “this is insane so let’s make it half as insane.”

    • Indiana_Matt

      Just to clarify. Although the ncaa can be ridiculous, rules are rules and there are consequences if you break ’em. Glad he is owning up to his mistake. I hope he goes to the Spurs.

  • countourzealous

    Well, that’s terrible news. Who seriously cares if athletes smoke weed? It’s freaking decriminalized in Ann Arbor anyhow. What a joke. We never saw how good this kid truly could be. Looking back, however, he really helped us get to that National Championship Game. But, man, this sucks….

    edit: Also wanted to add that this kid has maize and blue in his veins. Although his athletic career didn’t take off like it should have, he’s a devoted Wolverine and loves the school. That means a lot to a program.

  • PNickel

    If he gets drafted it won’t be in the first round so his money will not be guaranteed. NBA teams were already pulling away because of his injury & now this! Looks like Europe or the D-League. IJS.

    • Fan4life

      He will get drafted in the first round. He will outperform most of the Big Men in the NBA Combine in June with his work ethic alone.

      I would love for Mitch to get drafted late by a Playoff team like San Antonio , Golden State or even the Heat puts him in a better position to learn from vets and less pressure on him to perform early

      • countourzealous

        There’s no way he’s going in the first round.

        • Why not?

          • countourzealous

            I suppose it’s possible he’d go late in the first round if his workouts are excellent. He’s been off the floor for a long time, however, and I don’t expect him to be in peak form. That, coupled with Oden-aware teams skeptical of back injuries, will probably keep him out of the first round.

          • MAZS

            Unless medical reports suggest long-term back issues, I think Mitch ends up in round 1. I don’t see Miami, OKC or San Antonio passing on him–particularly to take dime-a-dozen point guards like Napier (who is among those showing up in some round 1s). I also think the grown-up way Mitch has handled this will trump any concern about his marijuana use–which I suspect is a virtual non-issue in the NBA.

    • arsenal926

      Doubt one failed drug test will have any type of effect on his draft stock. Spend 5 minutes with McGary and you’ll know what type of character he has. Anyways, I believe 3 failed drug tests earns you a 5 game suspension in the NBA, so it’s not like this is a big deal unless you’re looking from the lens of the NCAA.

      • Champswest

        I think I understand what you are saying, but I doubt that you can know someone’s character if 5 minutes. You might get a sense of their personality or nature, but character is what you do when no one is looking. A better view of character is how he handled the press conference.

        • Northern blue

          I would predict that more players than not in the nba have used marijuana since the time they were drafted into the nba and I would bet my entire bank account on it. Jeff van gundy tells a story about Yao Ming making fun of all his teammates and Yao asking “am I the only one that isn’t worried” when training camp drug tests were happening. Also Mitch knew he wouldn’t play this year meaning a failed drug test would not hurt the team. In essence marijuana use should never effect judgement of someone’s character- it is 2014, tons of people use it.

    • Chezaroo

      Seriously the D-league? Don’t bet on it.

  • mikey_mac

    So, the NCAA has draconian rules that hurt student athletes with little or no benefit to anyone. I cannot believe it.
    I would have loved to see McGary back next season, and it seems like that’s where we were headed. Tough break for us, and possibly for Mitch as well. Really hope now he’s healthy enough to perform in draft workouts.

    • Chris De Sana

      Draconian rule? So its the NCAA’s fault he broke the law and rule please…….

      • It’s Mitch’s fault he broke the rule, but 1 year for failing a pot test is draconian.

        • Chris De Sana

          Did he know the rule/law from the beginning? If so he was willing to risk it.

  • nexttimedown

    While Mitch obviously made an error in judgement (given NCAA rules), I applaud his honesty and accountability in owning up to the situation. Unfortunately. It sounds like Mitch would have wanted to return to school for another year if not for the suspension. Shame on the NCAA, as the punishment does not fit the crime.

    As for the NBA draft, assuming his back his healthy again, I predict some team takes Mitch in the late 1st round. While many people may disagree with my prediction, the fact of the matter is that 6’10” guys with Mitch’s high motor, great hands and tremendous rebounding and passing ability are a very rare and sought after commodity in the NBA.

  • CZGuy99

    going to miss the Big Guy… he will do well in the NBA with that motor, skill set and heart. He will remain a Wolverine favorite

  • GentlemanScholar

    Now I wish we lost to Texas. McGary would be back next year. D’oh.

  • Chris De Sana

    I am a big Mitch fan but for so many to blame the NCAA for this is absolutely crazy. Playing college sports is not a birth right and neither is playing for the University of Michigan. Every single kid knows the rules of the game before they enter it and they also know the penalty.

    The young man made a big mistake and it could have cost him one of the best years of his life and possibly Millions.

    I am probably one of the few here who will share this story with my child of the risk involved in making bad decisions.

    • mikey_mac

      I don’t get this “rule is the rule” perspective. If a rule is senseless and victimizing, why should we all lay off the NCAA for creating said rule? This is without even going into their hypocrisy about student (U-21) drinking and … oh right, basically everything else they decide.
      When you pass on this lesson to your child, if I were you, as I will be with my own child, I would make a point that fighting against unfairness is a meaningful alternative to just accepting it.

      • Chris De Sana

        Mitch is not the victim? Really? Did someone hold him down and force the joint or bong to his lips?
        As I have said before playing NCAA sports is not a right it is a privilege and that comes with rules. Mitch had no problem accepting them along with the $50,000 in education a year.

        As for unfair I would say that it would apply if and only if the rule was changed after he signed on the dotted line. Sort of like when a coach leaves a kid can leave rule, which was changed to accommodate kids who often pick a school based on the coach.

        • mikey_mac

          I never claimed Mitch didn’t break a rule. However, pointless draconian rules are still unfair. It’s a tautology of pointless draconian rules. So you must be contending that the rule has value to the NCAA and/or the athlete, and that the punishment matches the infraction, for you to not think this unfair.

          • Chris De Sana

            See now we are on to something; you feel enforcement of a drug policy is pointless and I do not. And I feel the enforcement of them has value. And again yes I think it is fair that when two parties enter into an agreement that when that agreement is broken the penalties spelled out in advance are enforced.

          • mikey_mac

            As far as both parties freely and willingly entering into the agreement, the NBA player union’s policy on age limits prevents a free market and essentially forces players like Mitch into the NCAA. To think Mitch really had valid alternatives is pollyannish. The effect is the NCAA is then able to force these rules with debatable benefit and draconian penalties on its students. I’m not going to be able to convince you that this is unfair, but it seems pretty clear to me.