Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disappointed By Ohio State

I received a call the other day from the folks creating The Ohio State University Alumni Today, the first publication ever to feature alumni listings from 1890-something through today. The school wanted to make sure that my information was correct and then tried to sell me this publication. (The hardback version is available for two payments of only $49.99 each!) Anyway, one of the first questions asked by seller was if I was still basking in Ohio State’s Sugar Bowl victory. I paused and replied that I had moved on to the basketball season. In reality, I couldn’t even remember who Ohio State played in the Sugar Bowl. What I remember from the game was that QB Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes were permitted to play in that game even though they were suspended for five games of the 2011 football season for selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies. They were permitted to play by signing a ridiculous document stating that they would return to school the following season (not declaring for the NFL draft) as required by coach Jim Tressel.

So last week, Yahoo! Sports reported the following (this text is from ESPN)

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel received an e-mail last April telling him that two of his players were caught up in a federal drug-trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia, breaking NCAA rules.

Tressel responded: "I will get on it ASAP."

But he never mentioned it to Ohio State's compliance department or his athletic director for more than nine months.

On Tuesday, Tressel was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about the players' involvement. He also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology.

The NCAA is still investigating and could reject Ohio State's self-imposed penalties and add more sanctions.

So Tressel knew about this since last April but did nothing about it. Lovely. Let’s go back a step. The five Ohio State players who are all around 21 or younger sold jerseys and championship rings for money. If you have little or no money in college and have an opportunity to sell something, you do it. I would have loved to have sold baseball cards or something for $1,000 when I was in college. Of course, what the players did was in violation of NCAA regulations, and therefore, they were punished. I get that. However, Tressel is not a college student with limited resources. He’s a grown man with a seven-figure annual salary. The fact that his suspension is less than the players is ridiculous. This is a case where the cover-up is worse than the crime. I hope that NCAA does the right thing here and significantly increases Tressel’s suspension.

Let’s get back to the Ohio State administration for a second. I was there when football coach John Cooper was fired. At the time, the school stated that he was fired because of players having academic and off-the-field problems. In reality, he was fired for going 6-6 and 8-4 in his final two seasons in Columbus and his inability to win bowl games or defeat Michigan. Here’s what really bothers me about the situation (again from ESPN):

Ohio State president Gordon Gee said he and Tressel had discussed the violation at Gee's house for 3 hours one night.

Gee also said he had not considered dismissing the Buckeyes coach.

"No, are you kidding?" he said with a laugh. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."

President Gee, you are the leader of one of the largest institutes of higher education in the United States. The buck (or in this case, the buckeyes) stops with you. I’m sure that you were instrumental in helping secure the recent $100 million investment by Leslie Wenxer, the head of Limited and chair of the school’s Board of Trustees. Congratulations to you for that (although Wexner probably would give millions of dollars to the school regardless of the president). However, when it comes to football, you would be better served to stay quiet. You already made a fool of yourself in criticizing TCU and Boise State last fall. Now you’re saying that the coach is bigger than you. It doesn’t work that way. Perhaps the Board should consider you position as president.

Oh, I’m not giving any more money to Ohio State, so enjoy making millions off of Pryor and the other players who you threw under the bus while acknowledging that the coach is fine. You probably don't need my money anyway.

The Columbus Dispatch has more about this story.

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