Manhattan College junior forward Jermaine Lawrence, a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, has been informed he will have to sit half of the season, two months after the school told him that he would be penalized just one exhibition game for a failed drug test.
The school gave the 6-foot-10 Lawrence a letter on Sept. 4, after he tested positive for marijuana, saying that he would be suspended for Manhattan's exhibition game against Bridgeport and also would have to enroll in a drug counseling and treatment program at St. John's Riverside Hospital.
In the letter, which was obtained by ESPN, it was documented that a second positive test would result in a 50 percent reduction in athletic scholarship aid and also a playing suspension equivalent to 50 percent of the season.
According to Lawrence's mother, Marcia Lawrence, the school then informed her son in November that he will have to miss half of the season and also lose 50 percent of his athletic scholarship aid because it was his second failed drug test.
"He was told that he was going to miss one game, and then it completely changed," Marcia Lawrence told ESPN. "They said it was his second offense two months later."
Marcia Lawrence also told ESPN that her son did not fail any drug tests from September until being notified of the change in punishment in November. She said that he has passed the two random drug tests he's taken since September and has voluntarily agreed to remain in drug counseling throughout the remainder of the season.
"And now he can't go anywhere else -- even if he wanted to," she added. "He's stuck because they didn't tell him until November."
Manhattan athletic director Noah LeFevre was one of four signatures on the Sept. 4 letter. A representative from the athletic department released a brief statement to ESPN.
"We support the health and well-being of all of our students and withhold comment on any internal issues involving our students," the statement said.
ESPN also attempted to reach assistant director of compliance Alison Fitzgerald, men's basketball coach Steve Masiello and Dr. Richard Satterlee, the vice president for student life at the school.
Lawrence will attend an appeal on Thursday afternoon. His mother told ESPN that he is being penalized for refusing to take a drug test last year.
"Jermaine didn't take it because he didn't feel it wasn't random at all," Marcia Lawrence told ESPN.
She also said she has sent a half-dozen e-mails to LeFevre, asking for an explanation -- and has not received any communication in return.
"There was no policy in place, no written consent for drug testing," Marcia Lawrence said. "He elected not to take the drug test.
"I've tried to reach out and get an explanation, but no one has gotten back to me."
Lawrence averaged 4.8 points last season for the Jaspers.