News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 13, 2008
AIKEN, S.C. --- With everything going on in Washington, DC, News 12 hits the diamond with a local college baseball coach to get his reaction to Roger Clemens testimony.
The USC Aiken baseball players didn't get together today for practice, but they did gather in their lounge to watch the Congressional hearings on steroid use in pro baseball. Their head coach Kenny Thomas says he hopes this is the end to the controversy.
News 12: "What are your players saying?”
Thomas: "The players are really interested in finding out guys like Roger Clemens if it's really true. Because even as a college player, Roger Clemens is still your hero. I'm sure the players are nervous, hoping it's not true."
The NCAA and the university do their part to make sure players don't end up testifying like Clemens did today. Trainers at USC Aiken talk to the players at the first of the year about banned substances.
"They can understand the ramifications of getting involved with steroids," says Thomas.
The NCAA policy, up to the plate. One positive test and you're out for a whole year. A second positive test, your eligibility is up. There are different rules for athletes that test positive for street drugs a second time.
"The NCAA is pretty strict about it, that's for sure," says Thomas.
And so is USC Aiken.
"We randomly drug test every month. I never know what players that are going to be called in," says Thomas.
Not once has a player told Thomas he did something illegal, but...
"I'm not gullible enough to believe, to coach for 20-something years, somewhere along the line, it hasn't happened. Every coach would probably say the same thing," says Thomas.
He hopes and prayers it doesn't happen on his diamond. And it all comes back to one lesson.
"Let those guys know: Hey, again, there's got to be life after baseball, and you better remember that," says Thomas.
And now, steroids becomes a joke at times.
"It's become so publicized now, heck, an opponent will hit one clear country out of the ballpark and somebody will say, 'He's got to be on steroids'," says Thomas.
"My number one hope is this ends the steroid controversy and the use of steroids in baseball. This is what America is about... baseball and hot dogs. And it's a dad-gun shame we have to go before Congress to solve all of this, but that's where we're at," says Thomas.
A former USC Aiken player is named in the Mitchell Report. Adam Riggs was apparently at the school before hitting the Major Leagues from 1997 to 2004. Riggs allegedly bought human growth hormone and other drugs in 6 to 10 transactions between 2003 and 2005, with four checks totaling $1,150.