Ohio St. finally beat an SEC opponent in a BCS Bowl Game, too bad the victory was completely tarnished by the fact the NCAA ruled that the five players suspended for rules violations were allowed to play. All they had to do was promise to come back to the university next season and say they were really, really, really sorry… Amongst those suspended were starting quarterback Terelle Pryor, starting running back Boom Herron. As well as starters DeVier Posey WR and Lineman Mike Adams. The last was a backup defensive lineman (not pictured). The skinny is this. Ohio State had given sports gear, i.e. hats, shirts, shoes, gym bags, and championship rings to these players. The players turned around and sold them for amounts between $1,000-$2,500. The players also received tattoos at a local parlor for being on the football team. Now in the grand scheme, it’s a relatively minor infraction. The point is, rules are rules, and they were improper benefits. The NCAA ruled to suspend them for five games but allowed all of them to play in the Sugar Bowl (at Jim Tressel’s request) if they all promised to come back to school in 2011 and serve the suspension. Does that not pass anyone elses’ “stink test” but me?
This on the heels of news that the NCAA was not going to take any action against Heisman Trophy winner, Auburn QB Cam Newton because, allegedly, he was unaware that his father was shopping his talents to Mississippi State during his recruitment process.
I guess what it all boils down to is, as always, money. To the NCAA, the TV dollars and Bowl partnerships are for more important than the integrity of the organization as a whole. It’s far more important to satisfy the sponsors that pay huge bucks to put top flight programs into the BCS. Those networks can drive advertising costs way up and everyone comes out richer. That is the system that feeds the “improper benefits” beast anyway. In today’s media and sports market in general, the industry is worth billions more than it was just ten years ago. The BCS payouts per team this year are $17,000,000. Anybody that thinks those kinds of dollars are not going to make athletic programs “cut a few corners” is delusional and naive.
What makes matters worse, and fuels this even more is when loopholes like, “I didn’t know my father did that”, or “Delay the suspension, and I’ll come back to school next year”, allow players to circumvent the rules. It means that there is more chance for universities with major college football programs to do whatever it takes to ensure success on the field. It’s a vicious cycle and one that is not going to get any better when the NCAA allows this.