LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton's suspension will continue into the 2018 season as the NCAA denied an appeal Thursday of his two-year punishment for tampering with a February 2017 drug test, his attorney told The Advocate on Thursday afternoon.
Alabama-based attorney Don Jackson said that "hopefully that's not the end" and that he and Fulton will be pursuing a waiver with the NCAA.
Jackson said he doesn't have a timetable yet for pursuing that waiver.
"At the moment, it's kind of a kick in the stomach," Jackson said. "I really feel for the kid."
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said after practice Wednesday that Fulton, the nation's No. 1-rated cornerback prospect coming out of Archbishop Rummel in 2016, has been practicing with the first- and second-team units throughout preseason camp, raising the possibility he would start opposite preseason All-American Greedy Williams if cleared.
“Of course, I am very disappointed by this decision," Orgeron said in a statement Thursday. "He’s done what we’ve asked him to do and I believe the appeal was a good one. He’s going to keep working and we’re going to stick by him.”
The LSU Athletic Department released a statement Thursday that "LSU Athletic officials are continuing to review the case."
"I was on the call today with Kristian and our team and I believe we made a strong case for an appeal to the committee," LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said in a statement. "I'm disappointed by the decision. Kristian has worked hard to work his way back from this and we are going to continue to support him."
The NCAA handed Fulton the punishment in February 2017 for allegedly using another person’s urine as his own in an NCAA drug test.
Fulton's review hearing with the NCAA committee was over a conference call Thursday afternoon, which Jackson said ended at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Williams said this week he believed Fulton would be one of the nation's "top five" cornerbacks if allowed to play.
Jackson has alleged there was a “very blatant breach” in the drug-testing protocol in Fulton’s case, namely not using a new container for the collection source “once it was clear there had been an effort to impact the integrity of the collection process.”
A June 13 article on the case by SI.com said on Feb. 2, 2017, at LSU's Broussard Hall, Fulton was seen by the test administrator pouring the contents of a small bottle into a beaker Fulton was expected to fill with his own urine sample.
“There should have been a new container for the collection source,” Jackson said. “You can’t have a fraudulent sample in a collection source, pour it out, then have an athlete provide a new test sample into the exact same thing.
“There was a belief the young man engaged in improper conduct. That being the case, that didn’t eliminate the obligation of the test collector to conduct the test in accordance with NCAA drug-testing protocol.”
Jackson said Monday that the hearing would focus on claims that the NCAA sample collector, Jason Shoemaker, "breached NCAA drug testing protocol," and that Fulton was suspended based on NCAA drug-testing bylaw 3.4, which "essentially regulates the identical conduct" as bylaw 3.3.
Bylaw 3.3 covers athletes that attempt "to alter the integrity of the collection process," which results in a one-year suspension, and bylaw 3.4 covers athletes who are "involved in a case of clearly observed tampering with an NCAA drug-test sample."
Jackson told The Advocate on Thursday that the hearing mostly focused on the bylaws.
"The fact that there were breaches in testing protocol was irrelevant to them," Jackson said.
LSU opens the season against Miami at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m.