Shame on the NCAA: Ohio State, Auburn, NCAA, and Hypocrisy The Enlightened Spartan: Shame on the NCAA: Ohio State, Auburn, NCAA, and Hypocrisy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shame on the NCAA: Ohio State, Auburn, NCAA, and Hypocrisy

Let us lay it flat out: the NCAA is being hypocritical, and college sports is at a crossroads in relation to the whole Ohio State and Cam Newton/Auburn situations.

The charge: that five Ohio State starters, including QB Tyrell Prior, cashed in their gifts of college jerseys, Rose Bowl rings, and free tattoos for up to $2,500 each. Now the Buckeye athletes have been caught and have to repay the money they earned and also be suspended for five games next year AFTER the Sugar Bowl. Said Ohio State AD Gene Smith: "The discount on tattoos is not as big as the other pieces... I'm not trying to make those two the same. But the cash was relative to family needs." God forbid, we might all starve or freeze to death without having tattoos.

The problems: (1) it is not a competitive playing field -- few others in college sports/football get a chance to sell championship rings, so the chance for extra revenue gives those players an advantage (and those coaches an advantage).

(2) what else is for sale? So let us say I am a famous booster (for example, Michigan's former booster Bill Martin), and I decided to give a Ferrari, or more realistically, a special edition Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer, to a famous hoopster. What's the difference in goods or cash: handing $2,500, $50,000, or giving an automobile? What if former UM hoopster Tractor Traylor had decided to sell his vehicle, which was GIVEN by Martin to Traylor's mother, for $35,000 in cash?

More importantly: (3) hypocrisy. Cam Netwon's father was shipping him around for cold-hard cash. And Newton was not exactly ace-ing his classes, coming from FSU to a junior college; God prays Newton is prepped for the real world without Pampers some day. But, Newton "didn't know," yet the NCAA finds, that his dad attempted to extort money out of Mississippi State and others? And Newton is given a clean break? So, how can Ohio State players also plead "ignorance" and not pay the price?

(4) Double hypocrisy: Moreover, going back to the UM situation, the NCAA eventually learned of the cheating via the Fab Five, and gave UM's basketball program near the death penalty, with a vacation of its Final Four, returning five seasons of victories, and multiple season of probation... something that decimated that program which has been down ever since. The ES says, where is the justice in this case? The values aren't so dissimilar.... that should be the emphasis.

(5) Triple hypocrisy. I teach a course in values at CMU. Much of what we talk about is 'doing the right thing" and "learning your value set" and "what is your moral compass." I guess they don't do that at Ohio State? Let's not pretend to be stupid. Ohio State players should have known this was a problem. If they did not, as suggested by the NCAA, then the compliance staff at OSU are really idiotic; for the college athletics program with the second highest revenues in the nation, I guess they can afford staff to know and share the rules with the players. I'm not buying this. At best, it is lack of institutional control and ignorance.... at worst, it is a holier-than-thou attitude among Ohio State athletes. I'm angling on the worst here, which leads to the worst penalties. Again, what is hypocritical here is players just pleading ignorance and getting off light... which means...

(6) Quadruple hypocrisy. Mark May on ESPN really had a solid point on Wednesday night. Ohio State, Michigan, the Big Ten is treated differently than rest of the nation. In all honesty, these OSU players should be suspended for the bowl game. But instead, OSU head coach Jim Tressel will support the NCAA decision to give them the opportunity to play in the game. Hmmmm.... For instance, this season at West Virginia, three players were suspended for the Champs Sports Bowl for not meeting academic eligibility requirements. So, why do three WVU players get suspended for their bowl game, but the five OSU players can wait until after the Sugar Bowl to enter the NFL draft or serve their eligibility next year? Earlier this year, Georgia's AJ Green was suspended immediately for the next four games after selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000.... yet OSU players get to sit out until next season?

The NCAA LOOKS AWFUL, terrible, hypocritical... and matter of fact, it looks incompetent in this case with Ohio State. The ES just about gives up, other than KNOWING that it is the folks in power -- particularly JIM DELANEY -- that creates a culture to make decisions like this.

This decision is against the values of higher education, it is a "talk the talk but don't walk the walk" with respect to the NCAA, is ethically against the principles of college athletics, and is shameful. Shame on the NCAA: suspend the OSU athletes immediately, or open the financial floodgates for athletes.