>Thursday Brunch: NCAA Messes Up Again in the Ohio State Controversy

Posted: December 23, 2010 in college football, ncaa, ncaafb
Tags: , , , ,

>By Nick Gallaudet

It was announced today that five Ohio State Buckeyes players have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 football season. Among the suspended are starting QB Terrelle Pryor and starting RB Daniel Herron, but the major announcement is that all five Buckeyes will be eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl on January 4. The five players, all of whom are juniors, sold various memorabilia such as Big Ten championship rings, awards, and game used jerseys, received other improper benefits, and discounted services. The players have also been ordered to repay all the money they gained from the sales and services. There are several things wrong with this story, and both sides are at fault.
 
The real story here is not about the players, even though I personally don’t understand how they could sell their Big Ten championship rings and personal awards. The real issue is the punishment. By not suspending these players for the Sugar Bowl, the NCAA has made a costly mistake. The NCAA stated that the players were not suspended for the BCS bowl because they did not receive adequate education about the violations rules in 2008 and 2009. This excuse is pathetic; anyone who has followed college sports in the slightest knows that selling anything related to the sport you participate in is a violation. The fact that the NCAA hid behind this poor excuse is indefensible and makes you question the already muddled motivations of the NCAA. The penalties levied against these players could amount to less than a slap on the wrist, because of the fact that all of them are juniors.
 
Every single one of them is eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, and every one of them has a real possibility of being drafted. These aren’t random scrubs. Four of the five are starters and the fifth is a solid defensive sub. Pryor has already stated that he will return for his senior season, but that is in jeopardy now. With the five game suspensions, Pryor, a Heisman hopeful each of the last two seasons, will not have a shot at the prestigious award, and short of a BCS National Championship, there is not much left for him to accomplish in 2011, and that seems less likely with five key pieces of their team sidelined. What this means is that all five of these players can enter the draft, and none of them will face any kind of punishment outside of paying back $1,000-$2,500, which will be nothing to them after they sign their first pro contract.
 
The NCAA is trying to play both sides of the fence on this issue. They want to penalize the players for clear rules violations, and they do that, but they do it the wrong way. There are two ways in which the NCAA could take this punishment: Either make an example of the players and suspend them for Sugar Bowl, in addition to multiple games next season, or truly accept the blame, and just make them pay back what they received. In an attempt to do both, the NCAA did neither. There was a message that the NCAA sent here, and that is that a player can claim ignorance (much like the Cam Newton saga) and get off scot-free. This raises sincere questions about the NCAA’s priorities; are they doing this to keep Ohio State relevant for the bowl season? Is this about money? In a time when the NCAA is under fire and rife with hypocrisy, now is the time when they prove they truly believe in their rules and regulations, and suspend these players for the Sugar Bowl. it’s time for the NCAA to stop waffling and exert some warranted authority.

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