By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – No one knew which way Mitch McGary would go, whether he would return to Michigan for his junior year or whether he would join teammates Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson in heading for the NBA. Whatever McGary decided would not have been particularly shocking.
Why he decided to go pro – and his decision to explain why – will likely surprise almost everyone.
McGary is foregoing his final two years of college eligibility because if he stayed at Michigan he would spend next season on the bench. The NCAA banned him for one year because he failed a drug test during the NCAA tournament, according to Yahoo Sports. Michigan coach John Beilein told Yahoo Sports that McGary admitted immediately he had smoked marijuana when confronted with the failed test a week after the Wolverines were eliminated. McGary had been hanging out with friend, had a few drinks and accepted when someone offered the drug.
“I always turned it down,” McGary said, according to the article. “But that night I didn’t.”
McGary could have turned pro after his freshman season, when his stellar performance in the 2013 NCAA tournament helped the Wolverines made a run to the national championship game. He stayed for his sophomore year but missed all but eight games of this season due to a back problem that required surgery.
“To all the Michigan fans out there, I’m sorry, ” McGary said to Yahoo Sports. “I did not want to end it this way. Basically, I just messed up. But we have certain rules and regulations that we need to abide by and I slipped up and didn’t abide by them. Things happen and you have to move on from them.”
Had McGary failed a Michigan drug test instead of an NCAA one, as a first-time offender he would have been suspended for 10 percent of the season. Obviously, the NCAA’s policy is much stricter. McGary said he believes he is ready for the NBA but that the suspension was the deciding factor. He also said the penalty does not fit the crime.
The NCAA evidently thought so as well, changing the penalty for testing positive for marijuana to half a year but declining to apply that lower level of punishment to McGary, saying the new rule does not go into effect until Aug. 1.
McGary told Yahoo Sports he wanted to put the truth out there so the story would not later leak and make people think McGary was trying to hide something. Beilein still supports McGary.
“We preach integrity each day in this program and this is reflective of that, someone coming out and saying I used very poor judgment and I regret it and I want to move forward,” Beilein said. “I think a lot of people will forgive people who make youthful mistakes.”