Update- All documents in the University’s response to the NCAA are now available online.
Update 2- Gene Smith defends the proposed sanctions.
Today, the Ohio State University submitted its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, including several self-administered penalties, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The Dispatch, is reporting that the University is placing the football program on probation for two years and is vacating all wins (including the Sugar Bowl) from the 2010 season.
While admitting that the Athletic Department technically falls under the category of “repeat offender” (stemming from issues with the basketball program in 2004, as well as Troy Smith receiving improper benefits in the form of $500), it holds that the circumstances warrant the recommended response.
According to the Dispatch, the University is not recommending or administering stricter punishment (post-season bans, lost scholarships) due to the fact that the violations were contained to former coach Jim Tressel, who the University asked to resign. Interestingly enough, Tressel will be paid for the month of June and will not be asked to pay the $250,000 fine initially levied by the University. He will also appear at the August 12th hearing in Indianapolis. Update- here is the agreement between the University and Coach Tressel.
It is after that hearing that the final decision regarding this situation will be made- these are self imposed sanctions, and should be seen as a “baseline” for NCAA response. It is speculated that the final tally will include post-season bans and scholarship losses, as well as significant sanctioning for the former Ohio State coach.
One additional finding in the Dispatch’s report- Another student-athlete was found to have received discounted tattoos in exchange for memorabilia, and has been suspended. The University has appealed to the NCAA for his reinstatement- at this time his identity is unknown.
This comes at a time where the University is also changing some of their protocol for monitoring student athletes, as outlined in an earlier Dispatch article. These changes include-
- Get better documentation of car purchases. To ensure that athletes are not getting inappropriate deals, dealers or players would provide records detailing transactions. Currently, athletes report how they obtained cars, but they don’t provide any supporting documentation.
- Set a time limit on “loaner cars.” The university would limit how long a student-athlete can borrow a car from a dealer or individual. Currently, Ohio State does not set a limit.
- Audit vehicles several times a year. Ohio State would check parking lots used by athletes to ensure their cars are registered with the university. Unregistered cars would be ticketed.
- Check everyone who receives game passes from football or men’s basketball players. At the beginning of the school year, students would be required to provide a list of anyone who might receive passes to games. The compliance department would talk to each person to determine his or her relationship to the student. Currently, Ohio State does random checks.
- Examine students’ budgets. A new software program will help officials guide students on how to manage their money. Ohio State officials say the main goal is to educate students, some of whom have never had a checking account before college, but the software also could help generate red flags about students who are living beyond their means.
Many of these recommendations were already in the works following the earlier audit of the compliance office.
In addition was this interesting tidbit-
Ohio State’s compliance department says much of its focus is on educating students and coaches about NCAA rules to avoid violations. But they say a big focus now is to address the people outside of Ohio State.
“The people who are trying to get close to (students) for unscrupulous reasons are pretty talented and skilled at what they do … so their ability to persuade and influence is pretty doggone good. … That to me is one of our biggest weaknesses and where our focus is,” Smith said.
To get the outside community involved, for instance, the university plans to work with car dealers who agree to provide records about sales. Athletes interested in buying cars could check the university’s list of participating dealers to simplify the effort to follow NCAA rules. Students who buy elsewhere would be required to provide the records themselves.
Given that the compliance office was already working with dealers, which resulted in the “one dealer sold a lot of Buckeyes cars!!1!l1!l” crisis, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
But what I’m most intrigued by is the education of the “people outside of Ohio State”- since I don’t believe that many of them will care. Most of the things being investigated aren’t accidental (Like Nebraska’s “recommended reading” problem), but actual attempts on the part of both parties to disregard NCAA and OSU guidelines.
Or, in the words of Ray Small- “”They explain the rules to you, but as a kid you’re not really listening to all of them rules. You go out and you just, people show you so much love, you don’t even think about the rules. You’re just like ?Ah man, it’s cool.’”
And all the “education” in the world isn’t going to solve that.
We’ll continue to bring you coverage of this as it develops, including full coverage and commentary as the official response is made available to the Media.