Monday, March 07, 2011


The Oozing Corruption That Is College Sports

Last December, news broke that five members of the Ohio State football team -- including quarterback Terrelle Pryor were found to have sold game-worn clothing, trophies, championship rings and other paraphrenalia on the Internet. Some items were traded for personal tattoos.  For any other Ohio State student, this wouldn't have been a big deal, since the items belonged to the students! 

Alas, being a scholarship athlete means that you are something akin to an indentured servant:  Things that are "given" to you or that you win for your exploits?  You're actually only "renting" them from the school until graduation. If you sell them before then, you run afoul of NCAA regulations stating that the athletes can't unduly "profit" from their special status on campus.  (So, to be a Division 1 scholarship athlete is, ironically, to have both a higher profile, but less rights than the average student.  Pryor, by the way, admitted to selling his items on eBay to help raise money for his mom.)

In any event, OSU announced that they were shocked -- simply shocked!! -- that this had been going on. The NCAA declared that the students would be suspended for five games next year -- but they could play in the January 2nd Sugar Bowl. Head coach Jim Tressel sternly told the five players that -- if they wanted to play in the bowl game -- they had to promise they would return to OSU next year to serve their punishment.  In other words, they had to swear they weren't going pro.

Many observers were ticked off that the players weren't automatically suspended for the bowl game. Others thought the image of a head coach essentially blackmailing his players to return next year appeared somewhat, well, unseemly.  Anyway, OSU won the Sugar Bowl.

Monday evening, the proverbial other shoe dropped.  Yahoo! Sports reports that Tressel apparently knew about the gear scheme -- nearly a year ago:
According to a source, a concerned party reached out to Tressel last April, alerting the coach that memorabilia transactions had taken place between Rife and a handful of Buckeyes players, including Pryor. The selling of items violates NCAA eligibility rules. The source said Tressel was troubled by the information, and the coach indicated that he would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
Whether the coach initiated an investigation of the accusation is unclear, but all five players remained on the field in the coming months, playing out the 2010 regular season.
After Ohio State alerted the NCAA of the memorabilia sales in early December, the NCAA’s student-athlete reinstatement staff ruled the players were banned from the first five regular-season games of 2011. The players also had to repay the improper benefits gained – $2,500 for Pryor, $1,505 for Thomas, $1,250 for Posey, $1,150 for Herron and $1,000 for Adams. Linebacker Jordan Whiting also had to pay $150 to a charity for receiving a discounted tattoo.
These are all, of course, just "allegations." Yeah, right. I actually believe every word of it. Which means that Tressel basically lied to the world last December and January, acting like he was as surprised as anyone that his players had acted improperly. Nope, he allegedly knew from the very beginning of the season. Nonetheless, he goes through with the charade of "punishing" the guys by getting them to give up their rights to turn pro and "allowing" them to play in the Sugar Bowl. 

Before this latest news came out, Tressel just looked like a jerk blackmailing students to play the game. Now, instead of blackmail, this looks more like, oh, conspiracy.  If Tressel knew, didn't tell his boss or anyone else at the university -- and then went through this whole BS of acting like a good stern disciplinarian -- that suggests he cut a deal with the five players, told them to dummy up and play cool so nothing bigger would come down.

As they say in politics, it's not the crime; it's the coverup.  Tressel could -- and arguably should -- lose his job over this. Ohio State is looking at some tough sanctions. 

Pryor and company may as well turn pro at this point.

And, oh, for those keeping track, both BCS Championship Game teams -- Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks -- are operating under the cloud of prospective investigations. And now, it  appears that the storied OSU Buckeyes may have been caught acting, well, less-than-candid.

Here's an idea: Figure out a system that pays the big-program student-athletes compensation slightly more commensurate with the millions that they're bringing in.  Or give them the same rights that ordinary students have -- getting a part-time job, selling their own property, etc. 

Otherwise, expect the slimy cartel that is the NCAA to infect even more premier programs -- as well as the students and, yes, their parents as well.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Technorati search
Search Now:
Amazon Logo
  •  RSS
  • Add to My AOL
  • Powered by FeedBurner
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage
  • Subscribe in Bloglines
  • Share on Facebook