blame to share.

I’ve heard plenty more discussion — more than I wanted to, anyway — about the suspensions today. There seem to be a couple points people are making, both of which deflect at least some of the blame away from the players and the athletics department. Both points are worth taking a look at:

The NCAA’s rulebook is a mess. Well, yeah, I can’t argue with that. The rules are numbingly complex and enforcement is infuriatingly uneven. The NCAA had an explanation about why the suspensions weren’t starting with the Sugar Bowl, but that explanation is a beautiful example of what exactly the underlying problem is:

The decision from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff does not include a withholding condition for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The withholding condition was suspended and the student-athletes will be eligible to play in the bowl game Jan. 4 based on several factors.

These include the acknowledgment the student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, (NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin) Lennon said.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation. In addition, there must not be any competitive advantage related to the violations, and the student-athletes must have eligibility remaining.

The policy for suspending withholding conditions for bowl games or NCAA championship competition recognizes the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season, and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective. In this instance, the facts are consistent with the established policy, Lennon said.

Uh, yeah. That is technically an explanation, but I’m not sure it’s one that going to make the questions — the ones about television ratings and postseason money — go away.

The rules put scholarship athletes at a financial disadvantage. I don’t remember whether I’ve said this here or at Uncle Crappy, but the system that forbids players from holding jobs while their university makes bucketloads of money selling everything from tickets to jerseys with those players numbers is ridiculous.

In my mind, the solution is pretty simple — pay them. Give them a stipend. It doesn’t have to be much, but it should be enough that it helps remove some of the temptation to, I don’t know, sell championship rings or Gold Pants for pizza money.

There’s a whole sociology dissertation behind this question; it encompasses race, social and economic status, idol worship and a host of other factors. A stipend wouldn’t solve all those problems, but it would ease the disparity between the athletes and the institutions that are making all that money.

Those are both legitimate problems and without a doubt, they both contributed to the suspensions. However, I’m still having a hard time getting past the university’s admission that it did not do enough to make sure its student-athletes had a thorough understanding of NCAA compliance rules. As I said, those rules are baffling and, in many cases, stupid — but they are still the rules. And if Ohio State wasn’t doing everything in its power to provide its scholarship athletes know those rules, that’s the first place we have to point the finger.

7 Responses to “blame to share.”

  1. December 23, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I agree with all except the race part. It has absolutely nothing to do with the argument. They should be legally paid, some are being paid anyway and they deserve it. Good post.

  2. 2 K
    December 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I will try not to add fuel to your fire of frustration, especially because I can’t help but wonder how many of the 5 will go pro now.

    My best friend in college was captain of the Penn State Women’s Tennis team. She was also an international student. We didn’t go out much as engineering majors but when we did she couldn’t go. She had almost no $. Even in the off season she couldn’t go out for dinner or a drink. We ate on campus with her so her dining account covered her meal. She couldn’t travel home, bummed change to make copies in the library. The NCAA rules against athletes having jobs is wrong. Being an athlete is their job and they should be paid like grad students.

    And Pryor is a bonehead.

    • December 23, 2010 at 11:15 pm

      I’ll write more about this later but my guesses would be: Herron will. Posey probably will. Adams is doubtful; he’s very good, but he’s also just a one-year starter. Thomas is a solid backup D-lineman but probably isn’t NFL material, so he’d be nuts to leave.

      And that leaves Pryor. TP said as a freshman that the key factor in picking Ohio State over Michigan or Oregon was that he’d develop the skills to be an NFL quarterback. He has improved tremendously in three years, but he is at best a project for an NFL team if he came out now. But what look at the position he’s put himself in (with some help from the university). Nearly half of his senior season is gone; what realistic opportunity will he have demonstrate further improvement over the remaining seven games?

      He’s had people telling him for his whole life that he’s the best thing going. If those same people are telling him he should cut bait and give the NFL a shot, that’s probably what he’ll do.

      • 4 K
        December 24, 2010 at 6:52 am

        Seeing as there is now no chance for a Heisman, serious potential to go into Big Ten play 3-2, nearly destroying their chances to be top ten (though not their chances to with the Big Ten, right?), I suspect Pryor would, too. Later this will make my Penn State fan side happy but for now the overall college football fan is just sad.

  3. 5 Prelo
    December 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Being much less a sports fan than the Crappy’s I occasionally wonder why the NFL doesn’t have the same kind of development program baseball has, i.e., why not have football farm teams? The NCAA is beyond belief, and it could move minor-major league football into smaller markets. Anyone for the Smith Center KS. Wheaties? Scientists Cliff’s DE Beakers?

  4. 6 fred
    December 23, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    i’m just really sad that they would sell their gold pants…

  5. 7 Large
    December 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    UC, I can’t take it anymore. I’m close to the end of my rope with the NCAA and it’s archaic rules, heavy-handedness, arbitrary application of the rules. I just want to scream. I sat through rules classes as a DIII athlete 25 years ago. They summed up all the regulations in one sentence. As an athlete, you can’t have/take something that isn’t available to the rest of the student body and you can’t financially benefit from your status as an athlete. Ex: You’re walking to class, the coach drives up, stops and gives you a ride to class. Violation. Coach doesn’t give rides to everyone. Ex: No free meals from the local diner, unless everyone is eating free that day. It’s really that simple. No excuses for not knowing the rules. These types of excuses diminish the players and the administration. My guess is that OSU employs multiple people as “compliance officers”. I’m wondering today, if any of them are being disciplined/suspended/terminated for dereliction of duty. I mean, if the players didn’t know and we have people on the tax payer dole that are responsible for making sure the players know, well, somebody should be accountable.

    Now a little ranting for the NCAA. This organization has abdicated its responsibility. As an arbitor of its rules and the overseer of college athletics the NCAA has traded honor and integrity for money. There is no way to look at the OSU suspensions taking effect after the Sugar Bowl and the whole Cam Newton fiasco as anything other than protecting TV and gate revenue at the expense of doing what’s right. Heck, most of these Buckeyes won’t be punished because they’ll leave for the NFL. The Cam Newton case opens pandora’s box for every parent in the country to shop their kid to the highest bidder, as long as they keep their kid out of the loop. It took the NCAA years to determine (what was readily apparent to everyone else) that Reggie Bush’s family was living way beyond their means. All of these decisions were in the best financial interest of the NCAA.

    Here’s the mission statement from the NCAA website:

    THE NCAA’s CORE PURPOSE IS TO govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

    Do you think they are living up to this? Is it fair? Equitable?

    I’m with you that something needs to be done to put a few bucks into kids pockets while on scholarship. It should just be part of the value of the scholarship. The school would just cut a “paycheck” to the student-athlete every month. But, until that is done, the rules should be followed and when broken, punishment should be swift and fair.

    Thanks for giving me a venue for venting my frustrations. Sorry about the length. As you might have guessed, I’m crappy at Twitter.

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2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
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Nov. 4: at Iowa
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Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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