Thursday, December 22, 2011

News Flash: The Suits In Indiana (Formerly Kansas) May Have Gotten The Ohio State Punishment Right

(Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Look, we don’t want to get to far out on a holiday limb concerning our friends at the NCAA, but the punishment for Jim Tressell’s Tattoo-gate seems reasonable from our perch over here in T.A.H. Worldwide Media’s glass house...er...um, headquarters.

The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and additional penalties Tuesday for violations that started with eight players taking a total of $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other Buckeyes memorabilia.

The question is were the penalties fair and reasonable considering the nature of the infraction and the current environment of craziness in which they are now framed?

First off, the disaster at Penn State puts Tatoo-gate into perspective.  Seriously, how wound up can you get about kids selling some stuff in exchange for services render.  A far cry from Jerry Sandusky in the shower with a ten-year-old...

That said, we always find the punishment phase to be tricky.  If you come down hard on Ohio State and ban them from multiple bowl games, ultimately you punish a bunch of college kids (student athletes) that didn’t do anything wrong.  That situation is true at Penn State as well.  The current Nittany Lions didn’t abuse any kids.

If you penalize the institution by allowing them to play in a bowl, but require them to re-allocate their payday (as did Penn State which is contributing their bowl revenue to victim’s rights organizations) that seems altruistic and a reasonable solution until you consider the negative impact on the kids that play non-revenue sports.  That bowl pay day is funding for wrestling, cross country, golf and field hockey to name a few.

So it always seemed logical in our view that the offending coach should bear part, if not most, of the burden.   It seems absurd that the institution and the student athletes are punished while the CEO of Football University takes his millions and strolls off to his next job.  Of course, the Pete Carols of the world can run USC aground and then head off to the NFL, but kudos to the NCAA for directing part of the penalty at the offending coach. 

Tressell, who doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and, quite frankly, we don’t expect every coach to run to their compliance officer and the NCAA every time they get wind of college kids breaking some rule.  Seriously, who needs the aggravation and all the red tape when in most cases a simple “knock it off” will suffice.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
We also presume even without consulting our poorly-paid stable of highly-esteemed attorneys, that the NCAA can’t legally ban anybody from coaching at a member institution.  However, they can have rules that make it much more difficult.

To that end, the NCAA hit Tressel with a “show-cause order” and that seems to make sense. Under a show-cause order, any school that hires Tressel would have to present its case for why it needed to employ him, and would risk severe penalties if he were to commit any further infractions after that.
As a result, Tressell, who like Carol, has found refuge in the pros, is unlikely to coach again at the D1 NCAA level, and almost most certainly he will be out of commission for five years.

Not a perfect solution in an imperfect world, but a pretty good attempt.  Of course, North Carolina, Miami, Oregon and Penn State among others, are waiting to see where the other shoes drops.

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