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Grow sues NCAA to regain eligibility

University of Florida senior Monty Grow, of Citrus High in Inverness, has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA to regain a year of eligibility he lost when suspended in 1991 after testing positive for a steroid-like substance.

Grow's lawsuit, filed Sept. 25 in Alachua Circuit Court, contends that the NCAA should allow him to use 1991 as a redshirt season. Athletes are allowed to redshirt one year _ not participate in games that season _ while still retaining four years of eligibility.

If Grow is not permitted to redshirt, this will be his last season at Florida.

"We knew this had been coming since last year," Grow said. "This was the only thing I could do."

The lawsuit disputes the loss of eligibility on several fronts, including:

An NCAA counsel recommended in 1991 that drug-policy violators not be permitted to use a redshirt season, but member schools have never voted on the proposal. The suit thus contends the NCAA is enforcing a nonexistent rule.

The suit also calls into question the veracity of the NCAA's drug-testing procedures. It points out that 10 days elapsed between the time Grow took a urine test and when the actual sample was delivered to a Montreal laboratory.

Grow, a starting linebacker, has maintained that he did not knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs.

Janet Justus, the NCAA's director of eligibility, declined to comment. NCAA attorneys have until the end of the month to respond. UF president Dr. John V. Lombardi said the school is remaining neutral in the case.

Notes

UF: Left guard Dexter Smith, slowed by a pulled groin, will be replaced by junior David Swain in the starting lineup when the Gators play host to Louisiana State on Saturday.

FSU: Linebacker Marvin Jones was held out of practice because of a knee contusion, but he is expected to play Saturday against North Carolina.

_ Times staff writer John Romano, correspondents Keith Niebuhr and Jim Vertuno and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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