This could quite possibly be the last SBP of… well… forever. The Mayans have spoken… or the Aztecs, I always get them confused. So, of course there’s only one soundtrack for the moment… it’s been a good ride.
As a part of this, though, the University is requiring students to have “open” bank accounts- to allow the University to better monitor incoming funds to avoid no-show jobs and booster “gifts”. The New York Times took a good look at the controversy surrounding this mandate; as there are those who see this as a dangerous violation of these young adults’ privacy. From the article-
“Part of me says you do what you’ve got to do when you’re a big-time college athletics program,” said David Ridpath, an assistant professor in sports administration at Ohio University and a member of the Drake Group, a network of professors who lobby for academic integrity in college sports. “The flip side is it’s pathetic that we have to do this. I don’t like the Big Brother aspect of this. Do we have to monitor everything? I guess it’s the next logical, unfortunate step.”
Later, the director of ESPN’s 30 for 30 about athlete financial struggles comments that the move is a frustrating one-
“…they are attempting to enforce and comply with rules that we all know to be fundamentally unfair to the student-athlete. They have a moral, ethical, contractual obligation to better educate those students. But they cannot infringe on their basic rights as an individual, as an American, rights that other Ohio State students enjoy. Not to make sure they’re not taking money from anybody.”
It’s an interesting perspective- Does the University monitor students who receive full scholarships or internships to ensure they are spending their funding “wisely”? But the expectation is different- physics majors can’t violate rules and negatively impact the University’s image in similar ways that a high-profile scandal can in athletics… see Penn State for proof.
While hopeful that students will be able to grow AND the University will be able to better ensure compliance to the NCAA’s labyrinthine guidelines, I can also see the argument that the Athletic Department is really seeking to cover their own assets… they don’t want to have anything ruin the cash cow that is big time sports at their institution. Again, the Times article hits close to home on this point: Ohio State’s compliance office(s) have a combined million dollar budget.
Commentary: Roster Management
With the news this week that Ohio State had gotten it’s fourth “preferred walk on” verbal and offered yet another one, as well as the decision by Verlon and his family to transfer from OSU, my mind started wrestling with a fundamental reality that college fans must deal with. How do our favorite teams get all of the players they need to be successful.
I’ve got a lot of different perspectives on this, as you probably guessed. The first is that I realize that “attrition” and the like are a normal part of the college experience, for both students and student athletes. My “real world” experience calls me into numerous meetings about things like affinity (a sense of belonging) and retention rates- it’s normal for young adults to make changes in their life paths as a part of their post-high school educational process.
This was also to be somewhat expected at a higher rate this season; even though Coach Tressel had students transition out of the program during his tenure, it’s easy to imagine that students recruited under the previous regime might feel a disconnect with the current staff (either in philosophy, perceived opportunity, training/other expectations, relationship with previous staff members). And, given what we’ve seen from Coach Meyer, it’s also understandable that this might be kicked up a notch.
I say that based on his own comments about his players this season. While The Vest could take an hour to say nothing in particular, Coach Meyer has been incredibly candid in his press opportunities- both in praising and in publicly stating that some of his players were falling short of his expectations. Heck, at the end of the season he spoke yet again about the steps that his Heisman candidate QB would need to take to reach his potential… and that was one of “his guys”. If he’s been this honest with the press, you’ve got to assume that he’s just as forthright with his players- he spoke candidly about Kenny Guiton’s transformation after a meeting, and that he had one foot on a bus back to Houston but chose to step fully into his role and become the “Coach” that the team looks up to.
As I think, then, about Verlon’s decision, it seems to connect that he may have had one of those honest conversations with the staff and realized, for whatever reason, that his successes would lie elsewhere. Again, I’m speculating here… but I’ve had those conversations with students under significantly less pressure than stellar receiver at Ohio State.
But with that realization comes a whisper of a concern… Isn’t this also what we’ve criticized in the past from programs who have a history of oversigning? Programs that load up every February with top recruiting classes and then find ways to make the numbers work- either by not renewing scholarships, “helping” students find medical hardship opportunities, or pushing for transfers to clear cap space. Luckily, we know that Coach Meyer found ways to win in the SEC without this practice- however, given the scholarship reductions this year and next as well as the top level recruits clamoring to get to Columbus, it would be tempting to perhaps work a bit harder to find room for more of “your guys”- particularly when you were so dismayed with the roster that you inherited when you arrived.
One major difference, though, comes from being a member of the B1G… where there’s not only four year guaranteed scholarships and a cap on a “per-year” class size (cannot focus solely on total roster number), but any variance from that per-year number must be explained to and approved by the conference itself. That in and of itself goes a long way toward stopping the “summer exodus” that other programs seem to experience- players who transition in June or July… just in time for their former teams to get under the 85 number by the start of fall camp.
While I’m not saying that Ohio State might be pushing players out to ensure that great recruits will have a slot open for them, as someone who works in higher education I am saddened by even the possibility of this practice at any institution- it highlights yet again how far the institutional mission has been compromised by high revenue sports. Students become a means to an end, rather than having their growth and development be the end that state funds, tuition dollars, student loans, and a lot of hard work and family prayers/sacrifices have sought to provide.
The fact of the matter is, outside of graduation or following Jonathan Hankins to the NFL, the only way for an incoming top notch recruit to begin to follow his dreams as a Buckeye is for a former top notch recruit to realize or decide that his dreams in Columbus have changed.
Keep an eye on the great coverage of Ohio State recruiting from James and the team here at tBBC, as well as our friends at Oversigning.com regarding this issue across the college sports landscapes.
Across The NCAA
I bring this up not only because of the Buckeye connection but because of another curious factor. If the Aggies do get his commitment, he will become the sixth linebacker and the 34th member of their 2013 class… a group that’s approaching Houston Nutt numbers. The SEC has enacted a “Houston Nutt” rule stating that each class cannot number more than 25, so there’s a good chance that some of these students (if they actually end up in College Station) will need to enroll early in order to back-count against last year’s class of 17-19. However, as our friend Jeremiah from MotSaG points out- they’re on target to have 129 signees over a five year period- that’s 4 over what B1G and PAC schools are allowed to sign.
I saw the Hobbit in Seattle this past Friday at 12:01 AM (yup, that guy), and couldn’t help but remember what I found myself realizing in the Lord Of The Rings Movies: Eagles are really lazy jerks. Anywho, I found myself thinking about this again after watching this video, and giving thanks that my people are historically “big boned”:
(since when have I let facts dissuade my opinions?)