In January, it was revealed that Jim Tressel, Ohio State University’s head football coach, knew about the “tat-gate” players’ wrong-doing in time to keep them from taking the field. He chose to let them play anyway. In addition to letting the infractions happen and not reporting them or stopping them, when they were discovered, he kept his mouth shut about having ever known. Later, he advocated for a suspended sentence, so that the players could play in a bowl game. He did all of this after having signed a document stating that he wasn’t aware of any infractions or possible infractions and sending that off to the NCAA. It wasn’t pretty in January, but that was only the beginning.
Yesterday, the other shoe dropped in the form of a Sports Illustrated piece that laid bare just how dirty a shop Tressel has been running.
Watching Ohio State partisans react to this news has been fascinating, as the gravity of the allegations seem not to have had any impact on them whatsoever. Numerous blog and forum postings continue to revere the man as respectable and trustworthy. Some blame the NCAA, others blame journalism, and a huge portion of them have trotted out the “he made a mistake, no big deal” line. This is misguided, but there’s nothing that can be said at this point to convince them — all we can do is sit by and watch it unfold. All good dramas need a playbill, though, and the one that most accurately sums up the acts we’ll see this time around follows the Kübler-Ross model.off
Yahoo Sports is becoming quite the investigative work-horse for NCAA news junkies. Yesterday they ran a piece alleging that Ohio State’s Jim Tressel knew about an NCAA infraction prior to the 2010 season but did not report it. Today, Ohio State acknowledged that as fact1. OSU has decided that a two-game suspension, a $250,000 fine, and attending a rules seminar should be sufficient.
The infractions that Tressel turned a blind eye toward were relatively minor, but it’s the unethical conduct and dishonesty which are the real issues here. The NCAA lacks the enforcement budget and subpoena power of state and federal governments, as a result, they rely to a great degree on self-policing to enforce the rules. It’s important that attempts to circumvent this system be punished severely — the costs of getting caught trying to not get caught should be orders of magnitude larger than owning up to the decision.
To their credit, the Buckeyes did self-report both the original infractions and Tressel’s dishonesty, but only after the institution had gained a competitive advantage by ignoring it. The most reasonable course here is for the NCAA to vacate OSU’s 2010 season.
- Another interesting tidbit from that document: The Department of Justice apparently notifies schools of possible infractions. I wonder how long that’s been going on. [↩]