Can college athletes be kicked off the team after a DUI?

For college students, driving under the influence arrests are a very real issue stemming from their unique position. Many college campuses are "dry," meaning that no alcohol can be consumed or possessed on campus. College students living on campus don't have the option of drinking at their temporary "home," so this increases the risk of drunk driving.

A DUI is also a big issue for college athletes because the penalties can go beyond fines, probation, jail time and other legal ramifications. For college athletes, a DUI arrest could lead to dismissal from the athletic program.

It depends on the college and the case

The ramifications are decided on a case-by-case basis in some instances. For example, cornerback Dominic Clark was kicked off the football team at Ohio State, likely because he was a repeat offender. However, at the University of South Carolina, police arrested backup quarterback Tanner McEvoy for drinking, driving and speeding - even though he was underage. He wasn't suspended or kicked off the team. He did choose to transfer. At Hawaii, quarterback Cayman Shutter got charged with DUI, pled no contest and received a four-game suspension.

As you can see, there isn't a set rule in place for how schools must treat athletes who get DUIs, at least not one that is imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. These examples also all focus on football players, though there are thousands of athletes in swimming programs, volleyball and other minor sports programs.

However, the precedent exists. College athletes who get into legal trouble can be kicked off of their teams. They can lose scholarships and see their athletic careers derailed forever.

Loss of an athletic career is only one of the repercussions

For many, losing an athletic scholarship also means losing an education. Imagine if a scholarship is the only way you can afford to go to school. Tuition costs are rising every year. Graduates now have more student loan debt than ever. A full-ride scholarship gives you a tremendous edge and the means to get a world-class education for free.

That's what a DUI conviction can take away from you. While fines can be paid and jail time ends, losing that education can ruin your career plans and dramatically change the trajectory of your life forever.

This is about more than just trying to get to the next level in your sport of choice. The vast majority of college athletes never play professionally. That's true for football, basketball and all minor sports. The level of competition in the pros is insanely high. For most college athletes, sports are just a vehicle to get an education and start a promising career.

You worked hard to get into college. You put yourself on a path to follow your dreams. If you're facing a DUI conviction, seeking the services of a criminal defense attorney can protect your future.

Worried that a DUI arrest may take all of that away, be sure you know what legal options you have.

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