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Ohio State Situation Is Latest NCAA Hypocrisy

Posted on December 23, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Despite violations, Terrelle Pryor and four teammates will be able to play in the Sugar Bowl for Ohio State.

So let me get this straight, five members of the Ohio State football team committed actions deemed severe enough to warrant suspension for five games during the 2011 season, but not severe enough to suspend them from their bowl game for this season? I guess it just proves the old adage that the truth is stranger than fiction.

If you haven’t yet come to the realization that college football is a business, maybe this latest action will help you see the light.

Instead of suspending the five junior members of the Ohio State team (including the starting quarterback, leading runner and second leading receiver) from the high profile Sugar Bowl for which Ohio State and the Big Ten is being paid $17 million to participate, the NCAA postponed the suspension until the 2011 season. Of course it is highly likely that most, if not all, of the offending players will never serve even one game as this decision has probably ensured that they will be NFL bound following their bowl game.

I can’t really decide which part of this situation bothers me more: that the NCAA is being so blatant in ensuring the quality of the Sugar Bowl despite acknowledging that some of the participants broke known rules or that in a college football landscape where billions of dollars of revenue is being generated these players are being punished because they collected between $1,000 and $2,500 for choosing to sell items given to them during their college careers.

The NCAA and university leaders are always spouting off about the sanctity of college athletics out of one side of their mouth while seemingly doing everything they can to cash in on the other side.

Do You Agree With the NCAA Ruling on Ohio State?

  • No (93%, 14 Votes)
  • Yes (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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I’m not saying that these players were right in selling items they received for success during regular season and past bowl games, but given all the money others are receiving as a result of their accomplishments can you really blame them for looking for a way to get their share?

I mean what good is having a Big Ten Championship ring or a “gold pants” trinket given to players for beating Michigan if you don’t have enough money for things you really care about like tattoos or going out to dinner or the movies?

It isn’t like Terrelle Pryor receives any revenue for all the number 2 jerseys that are worn to Ohio State games (currently available on ebay for anywhere from $24.99 to $129.99).

By making the decision that they have, the NCAA has clearly stated that there is a hierarchy in place and as long as you are on the right side of that curve then you will be taken care of.

That was seen earlier this year when after having their indiscretions ignored for years, USC was finally hit with the book once it was obvious that they were no longer among the top programs in the land. And of course right now we are living the Auburn situation where Cam Newton and the Tigers are being taken care of today, but don’t be surprised if they are hit hard down the road once the check for the national championship game television rights has been cashed.

It is sort of like the old adage that the NCAA was so mad at the University of Alabama (or any other top tier program) that they put Troy State (or any other middle-lower level program) on two years probation.

If the intention of the NCAA was to crack down on actions such as those exhibited by the Ohio State players they would plain and simply suspend the players for their bowl game and then extend the punishment into the 2011 season.

Instead, they have tried to illustrate their toughness by suspending them for five games in 2012 (only one of which is against a Big Ten opponent), while at the same time taking care of those who are paying the big bucks.

Unfortunately for the NCAA and the university leaders who control big-time college football, fans are starting to take notice to their hypocrisy and at some point you have to expect a backlash to occur. Many fans are already frustrated with the inability of the major college football powers to devise a championship structure that can be considered fair and equitable.

It seems to be only a matter of time until the growing number of suspensions, probations and stripping of championships leaves college football with such a negative perception that it detracts from the joy many people get from following college athletics. 

It is easy to argue that the NCAA and major universities have already crossed the fine line between sport and business, but if not, they have certainly grayed the line. Given their greed and hypocrisy, at some point they will cross it so emphatically that they will be unable to put the Genie back in the bottle.

Until then, at least we will have a good show at the Sugar Bowl.

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