After Auburn and the NCAA caught some flak for dropping a roster spot for football walk-on C.J. Harris, head coach Guz Malzahn addressed the matter briefly and claimed Harris did not receive medical clearance.
Harris was a starting safety on a championship high school team in Georgia this past season. He has also been dealing with epilepsy for the past six years—his quest to find a treatment that allows him to continue pursuing his football dreams without compromising his physical or emotional well-being was thoroughly documented by the local press. Harris and his family landed on CBD oil, which uses the non-THC part of the cannabis plant (not the stuff that gets you stoned) to allay seizures Harris was previously having multiple times per week. After suffering his 14th seizure in January 2017, Harris switched over to the oil and has not had a seizure since then, according to a TMZ interview with his father.
Malzahn spoke with the press on Wednesday. When asked about why Harris was had his preferred walk-on spot rescinded, he referred to the team’s medical staff. From the Ledger-Enquirer:
“He wasn’t cleared by our medical staff. That was really the bottom line,” Malzahn said. “It didn’t have anything to do with anything else like some people reported.”
Malzahn’s comments, while sparse, back up what 24/7 reported last Friday—a source told the outlet that Harris’s history of epilepsy was the main reason the Tigers chose to drop him from their roster. But that raises the question of why Auburn even recruited Harris in the first place. His story was not only supported by the local media and conservative Georgia politicians as a common-sense approach to medical marijuana use, but was one of the first items his family spoke about with Greg Brown, Auburn’s safeties coach and the staffer in charge of recruiting him.
Harris’s father told TMZ they’d be willing to switch CBD medications if that was the hangup—this past year, since the oil wasn’t allowed on his high school campus, his dad would drive to school every day at lunch to take him off-campus to administer the medicine. Harris is now expected to pursue other football opportunities at NAIA or junior college programs.