The stink from this is going to be on the airwaves for months to come. Five Buckeyes selling their championship gear to earn money – albeit to help their parents out – are allowed to play in a big bowl game and serve their suspensions the next year. The argument is going to go something like this,
Clearly the Buckeyes are more interested in bowl wins than punishing their student athletes!
Certainly seems like a valid argument. The Buckeyes look like they are trading the opportunity to play their guys now for losing them for 5, mostly meaningless games next year.
Consider who the Buckeyes are playing:
Three of those teams stand out. The game at Miami (FL) might not be so bad, especially since they’ll have to deal with having yet another new coach, but they can still play football. Colorado…well, they’re Colorado. But we follow that up with a Michigan State team that I’m certain would love to come into the Shoe and pound us for the 2006 (38-7) and 2008 (45-7) home losses they suffered to us.
But here’s my point. The Buckeyes chose to punish these guys before the NCAA stepped in. What punishment did Ohio State choose?
The five players would sit out the Sugar Bowl.
Ohio State recognized the failure in compliance with NCAA bylaws and punished their players by preventing them from playing the next game – a game they worked hard all season to earn. A game I’m certain they all desperately want to play.
The NCAA, in their infinite wisdom, took a look at this decision and formed an opinion of their own. Instead of punishing them for the Bowl Game, the NCAA decided to let them play the Sugar Bowl but punished them for the next season instead. Now why would they do that? Wouldn’t the NCAA rather choose “all of the above”, if not the immediate punishment?
You may recall a set of articles written by MaliBuckeye on the subject of the BCS bowl system. Allow me to refresh your memory:
This implies one very obvious, ugly answer. The Sugar Bowl, having invested millions of dollars already on this matchup between Ohio State and Arkansas, put pressure on the NCAA to not punish the OSU players for this bowl game. That action preserves the Sugar Bowl’s investment in the game, and even goes above and beyond by giving the game lots of free publicity to draw more viewership.
Look, it’s bad enough that a bunch of student athletes unknowingly committed NCAA violations. It’s great that the university found out about what was going on, moved quickly through the investigation, and dropped what they viewed as an appropriate punishment as fast as possible. It’s even better that the players were willing to come forward and be honest about all of this, which sped the whole process along. That’s a huge victory for the OSU compliance office, even if the entire problem was caused by their failure in understanding the bylaw rules the first time around. Clearly OSU compliance is teaching the student athletes what they need to know to remain eligible.
However, the players still committed violations. By NCAA rules they should be declared ineligible until such time that they’ve repaid the money, plus whatever additional time the NCAA sees fit. The fact that the NCAA is willing to bend the rules for a bowl game is nothing more than a disgusting sign of the times.
In case you read that wrong, I am much happier sitting Pryor and friends out for the bowl game than letting them play and force them to sit out next season. Ineligible players should be ineligible no matter what the circumstances.
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, [NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, Kevin] Lennon said.
It’s great that the NCAA has the student-athletes in mind when establishing their rules. Clearly they care about the “unique opportunity” to play in a bowl game. However, if the violations don’t involve a competitive advantage how is there not a withholding clause for regular season games as well? Clearly by this argument the NCAA should not hand down suspensions for any violation that doesn’t involve a player who gained a competitive advantage.
There’s only one difference between a bowl game and a regular season game – the amount of money they get from it. Whether you buy it or not, it seems as if the NCAA has created itself a “wiggle room clause” that allows it to decide not to suspend players if the organization can benefit from it monetarily. The NCAA doesn’t give a rats behind about the student athletes, they care only about lining their pocket books. In the comments, feel free to name your favorite example of an NCAA screw job of a player because the NCAA decided to follow the letter of their precious bylaws instead of the intent they were written. Mine might be the unfortunate lower division football player who redshirted his first year only to have the football program get canceled. When he tried to switch to basketball, the basketball team said they didn’t want him. Upon transferring to another program to play basketball, the NCAA refused to grant him a waiver forcing him to sit out an additional year.
Moving on, Ohio State is going to appeal the decision as passed down by the NCAA. It will be interesting to see what comes of that appeal, but I already have a guess at how this is all going to work out.
If the NCAA is lucky, the appeals decision will take until after the NFL draft to come through. The OSU players will be on the fence until the last moment, and ultimately decide to risk it. That’s if the NCAA is lucky. If Pryor, Posey, Herron and Adams are smart – and the more I learn, the more intelligent I think they really are – they are going to hop ship for the NFL just as fast as they can.
This is a disaster of monumental proportions, and it just goes to show the truth of a particular old saying
The worst of consequences can happen from the best of intentions
Too bad the NCAA will never have to suffer the consequences of their ignorant actions.