Hi, NDSU fan here. Sorry for necromancing an old thread, but I was just bopping through regional FCS boards while bored and saw no NDSU fans stopped by at the time to clear up the questions here. If you're not interested, just click the back button and ignore. I'm just trying to provide info if anyone wants it.
First of all, there was some suggestion that the Fargo media was quiet about this story. What you wouldn't know unless you were from the area is that the Fargo Forum(the primary print media in Fargo) actually owns the Grand Forks Herald(the link in the original post). If something about NDSU is in the GFH, it actually came from the Forum and was printed there first. The author of the story in the OP is the main NDSU beat writer for the Forum. So no cover up in that way.
The only thing that some people(that didn't like NDSU) complained about at the time was that the Fargo media may have sat on the story about the player's suspension for a couple days before the championship game. The story didn't break at all until the night before the game, and no major stories about it were published until the morning of the game. Some people who claimed to have connections with the local media said that they knew about it 3-5 days before the game. Why would they sit on it? Some say to avoid bad press leading up to the game. I've got a theory, but it's based on no evidence, just supposition.
You probably don't remember, but EWU had a major player in trouble going into the championship game. He had been arrested for kicking his brother unconscious during a fight. The EWU coach was playing coy about whether the player would be eligible for the game or not; claiming the decision wasn't up to him. It was only confirmed that the guy wasn't going to play when a Fargo media member snapped a photo of him in street clothes, walking the stadium concourse a couple hours before the game. Part of me wonders if, in response, either the NDSU coaches asked the Fargo media to sit on the NDSU story until game day, or the Fargo media decided to do it on their own. It wasn't really a big story anyway. The player was important, but nowhere near critical. So maybe a little retribution gamesmanship? It's just a theory.
Anyway, back to the bigger story. When the part of the story hit about a substance being throughout the locker room and being provided by a staff member, it really confused us. It's a simple fact that no FCS team is tested more by the NCAA than NDSU. The NCAA randomly tests 18 players before or after every playoff game. Since NDSU has played in far more playoff games than any other FCS team in the last ten years, that means NDSU has been tested more. Just in 2018, up to the point this one player tested positive, NDSU had been tested 54 times(18x3). If this stuff truly was everywhere in the locker room, why hadn't we seen lots of players test positive before? It just didn't make sense.
We started to piece things together a bit just after the story hit. The author linked the story on his work twitter account. A former NDSU player replied to the tweet with a phrase. A few replies later, a random person tweeted to the first player that he should identify someone if he had something to say. A second former Bison replied to that by saying the first guy already had.
What it all meant was that the phrase in the first reply was a something commonly uttered by a guy named Ben Newman, and anyone in or near the football program would know that. Newman was a motivational, rah-rah guy hired by head coach Chris Klieman. As far as we know, Newman was not employed by NDSU directly; his pay either came from CK or another external source. CK hired him because he recognized that he wasn't an energetic guy himself, so he thought he should bring someone in that was. Newman had been brought in several seasons back for short periods of time(few days or a week), and CK thought the team would benefit if Newman was there more often. 2018 was the second or third year of him being there most of the season. (Other schools also brought Newman in to work with their teams as a motivational coach.)
Once Bison fans found out who the staff member linked to the story was, some did some web, twitter and facebook digging. They found some photos of him with a pre-workout supplement. That lead us to believe that product was the smoking gun. It turns out Newman is a rep for the company that makes the stuff. So if this was the bad stuff, what about it caused the positive test?
From NDSU and the family, we knew that the banned substance in question wasn't an illicit drug like meth or cocaine, and it wasn't a steroid or HGH-type product. Both parties said the test failure was due to a stimulant. That narrowed things down. We looked at the banned stimulant list and the ingredients list from the supplement, and one name was on both: caffeine.
So caffeine is an NCAA banned substance? In high enough levels, yes. About a 6-pack of Mountain Dew bottles or 7 cups of coffee taken within 2 hours before a drug test will pop you. 'The More You Know', huh? We looked at the label and found that, if used as directed, the supplement should not have been enough to put our player over the line. But if he took a double dose, that might do it.
So now we have a story that makes sense. A member of the extended staff brings in a supplement that is legal if you use it as directed. Many players in the locker room choose to use it, but there's no danger of them failing a drug test. But one player uses too much, either deliberately or by accident, gets pegged, loses his opportunity for the championship game, and loses his entire senior season. Very sad, but our S&C staff preach that you are responsible for everything you put in your own body. This is why.
So why did the story break the way it did? Well, mom is a former NDSU WBB star. And word is that she is really pissed about the whole thing. She blames NDSU and wants them to own up. There's nothing NDSU can do about the suspension, but I suspect she wants his scholarship continued. I don't think it's about the money as much as it is the principle to her. But I'm sure NDSU doesn't want to set a bad precedent by giving a scholarship to an ineligible player. I think leaking this story to the media and framing it the way she did was an attempt to put pressure on NDSU.
We don't officially know that caffeine is what the player tested positive for, but it's what makes the most sense. I don't think NDSU can or wants to say because of either HIPPA/FERPA or just that they don't want to acknowledge Newman's role in things. I think mom doesn't want to say caffeine because that takes pressure off NDSU. As long as she implies it was something worse, the heat is on NDSU. If she admits it's caffeine, everyone says "who cares, I just drank caffeine in my coffee/pop." Any negative feelings get directed toward the NCAA for banning it in the first place, not NDSU.
I'm not thrilled with a guy like Newman being so close to the program, but he's gone now anyway; Klieman took him along with to Kansas State. The main thing I'm worried about at this point is how exactly Newman 'provided' the supplement. If he just gave samples initially and maybe served as the guy who delivered the orders after the students paid, that's not so bad. Not great, but not bad. If he was giving it away, however, that would be really bad. That would be an improper benefit and could bring down the wrath of the NCAA. I'm hoping that's not the case and so far nothing has popped up suggesting it is.
As of mid-May, there have been no new developments. If NDSU has caved or mom has given up, we don't know.
Fargo Forum version of OP article plus local TV story inside of it(both owned by same company): https://www.inforum.com/sports/football ... -drug-test
Tweet with the "pound the stone" reply:
Newman's website: https://www.bennewman.net/mental-toughness/
Supplement webpage: https://www.cleanvictorysupplements.com/
Archived supplement webpage with Newman - page since removed: https://web.archive.org/web/20190102102 ... pages/team
Ingredient info on supplement: https://www.cleanvictorysupplements.com ... re-workout
NCAA banned substances list(scroll down for detailed list of drugs): http://www.ncaa.org/2018-19-ncaa-banned-drugs-list
Info on caffeine as a banned substance: http://www.sportsrd.org/wp-content/uplo ... ce_WEB.pdf
If you made it to the end of this novel, congratulations. You must be bored or a glutton for punishment. Have a good night/day.