(Editor’s Note: Issues facing people working in sports management and administration positions are a major focus of commentary in the Digest. Few would disagree that anyone working in such jobs today is constantly faced with difficult choices involving legal, administrative and ethical choices. The decisions made by those in these positions impact many lives and are thus important issues to look at).
It was reported on July 8 that Ohio State University has admitted to major violations of NCAA rules in its formal response to the Infractions Committee. The admissions all concern the events previously reported concerning improper benefits received by six football players during the 2010 season.
The school stated that it will vacate all wins from its 12-1 2010 season, including its Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas. It further stated that it was imposing a two year probation on itself. In its response the school stated that former coach, Jim Tressel, has accepted responsibility for his actions in failing to report the violations when he became aware of them in January, 2011 and for his subsequent efforts in covering up the information.
The university stated that no one else employed by Ohio State during the time of the violations had any knowledge of any wrongdoing. The response in effect stated that President Gordon Gee and Athletic Director, Gene Smith, were not at any time in a position to have known anything. The university is blaming everything on Jim Tressel.
There are some interesting points to be drawn from the Ohio State Response.
First, at the time Coach Tressel “resigned” a month ago it was stated that he was being fined $250,000 for his role in the scandal. In its formal response the university stated that he had in fact “retired” and that any fine was being waived.
Second, while announcing that the school was placing itself on probation for 2 years no penalties of any kind were mentioned as part of the probation.
Third, while the school vacated 12 wins from the 2010 season it said nothing about returning any championship trophies, asking for refunds of any coaching bonuses to coaches awarded for on-field achievement; or asking for gifts to be returned by players that they received for winning 12 games including the Sugar Bowl.
According to a report published in the Columbus Post-Dispatch newspaper the university also told the NCAA that it was “continuing to investigate” other reports of wrongdoing in its football program and that it would notify the NCAA if it found in further violations. At the same time the university stated in its report that it had been diligent in conducting its investigation.
It would appear that the official position at Ohio State is that there was only one bad guy and he is gone. Those remaining have said they are sorry and will not be bad again in the future. “You can trust us” is what they seem to be telling the NCAA.
This response seems self-serving at best. Is it any wonder that so many people look at the world of intercollegiate athletics with cynicism? How far do we think a co-defendant in a bank robbery case would get if his story was that he did drive the vehicle used to leave the crime scene; but he never saw any money and really didn’t know why his three buddies came sprinting out of the bank to the vehicle with guns raised and yelled for him to drive away as fast as he could?