Two words . . . probation violation.
OSU's Head Is Not On A Platter, And I Don't Know Why
Golden Bobcats fans are doing the rending of garments, blaming of the media, and ritualistic voodoo poking of Gene Smith after their idiotic AD sacrificed the relevance of the 2012 season on the altar of a 6-6 team's Gator Bowl. They're sad. They should be grateful Columbus isn't a smoking crater.
The rest of us should be pissed. Doctor Saturday lays out the case for this being a frustratingly weak penalty:
The accusations against Ohio State involved at least nine players, the head coach and an Ohio State booster, none of whom denied the charges. (See below.) Not only did the starting quarterback and other Buckeye stars accept cash and prizes from multiple third parties: Coach Jim Tressel knew they had accepted cash and prizes from multiple third parties, and actively covered up the fact for an entire season while they won him another Big Ten championship. (Per the NCAA, Tressel "had at least four different opportunities to report the information, and his failure to do so led to allowing several football student-athletes to compete while ineligible.") Once that game was up last December, Tressel proceeded to cover up the coverup while the same players went on to win the Sugar Bowl.
The response was hardly a slap on the wrist. But compared to the book the committee threw at USC for lesser offenses, it is… well, it's a significantly smaller book: A one-year bowl ban as opposed to two, nine suspended scholarships as opposed to thirty. …
The double standard is obvious enough. And the reason is just as clear: The NCAA is significantly less concerned with actions that is with reactions.
Now that everything's sunk in, it is weak. Exceedingly so. It only seemed like a pleasant surprise yesterday because the OSU athletic department had been lying to anyone who would listen about the severity of the sanctions forthcoming. Five players ineligible play an entire season and the NCAA doesn't even issue the two-for-one scholarship penalties that seem like a bare minimum. A head coach making a mockery of the NCAA's enforcement process but no lack of institutional control. This is one of the ways in which a university can demonstrate a LOIC:
A head coach has special obligation to establish a spirit of compliance among the entire team, including assistant coaches, other staff and student-athletes. The head coach must generally observe the activities of assistant coaches and staff to determine if they are acting in compliance with NCAA rules. Too often, when assistant coaches are involved in a web of serious violations, head coaches profess ignorance, saying that they were too busy to know what was occurring and that they trusted their assistants. Such a failure by head coaches to control their teams, alone or with the assistance of a staff member with compliance responsibilities, is a lack of institutional control.
Here there is no deniability and yet the university didn't even get a failure to monitor charge until the NCAA found a no-show-job check stub in Terrelle Pryor's bank account. Ohio State escaped. USC got hammered based on one photo.
I have no idea why. Hinton goes on to make the case that the NCAA's double standard arises from a cooperative OSU administration contrasted against the defiant Trojans. That's rapidly solidifying into the conventional wisdom, seemingly because it's the only possible explanation. There's just one catch: it's not true. This was USC's institutional response:
Since the allegations surfaced, USC has been working closely with the NCAA and the Pac-10 in an attempt to get to the truth.
Working in conjunction with the NCAA and the Pac-10 — we have already interviewed approximately 50 people and spent many hundreds of hours investigating these allegations. We have no idea how long this investigation will continue — and no one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion than we are — but we remain committed to getting to the truth.
USC has participated in every interview — except those few from which we were excluded. Our exclusion from these interviews mainly stemmed from demands from those making allegations against our student-athletes, insisting that no one from USC be present.
We have cooperated and worked together with the NCAA and Pac-10 every step of the way during this process and we intend to continue to do so.
The bluster about jealousy and whatnot happened, IIRC, after the sanctions were announced.
Compare that to Ohio State's pathetic reaction to the Tressel violations that eventually got the guy a five year show-cause penalty: a two game suspension that they modified to five before hiring an adult to consult with them about the likelihood the NCAA would not burn Jim Tressel to the ground. They eventually fire-resign-retired Tressel. By the time they did it was clear someone had sat them down and told them there was no way they would be able to keep him employed. Firing Tressel wasn't a choice. Tressel fired himself by lying about the eligibility of five athletes four separate times. OSU deserves no credit for taking a step they knew they'd have to take. They were so disgusted by his actions that they had him talk to the team before the Michigan game. Meanwhile, Smith went with the Garrett taunt in July:
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said, if the NCAA adds punishments that cause students or the school to lose money. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."
If you can parse out a more compliant athletic department between the two you are a black belt in hair-splitting.
"If you set the bar with USC," asks Holmes, "and how the NCAA came down hard when they had one assistant coach [Todd McNair] and one player [Bush] involved and here you have the head coach and half of the team is allowed to play when the head coach knew they were ineligible and they only lose nine scholarships? That's mind-boggling." …
"The definition of lack of institutional control is when your head coach is covering stuff up to facilitate guys being able to play," Holmes said. "The head coach is in charge of everyone. Tressel was caught and he knew all this was going on. Also how did those guys play in that bowl game? This is unbelievable. They were all lying."
Either you're burning a corrupt culture to the ground for half a decade or more (USC) or you're letting them get on with it after a single year of mild penance(OSU). So much for "high profile players need high profile compliance."
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the NCAA is not entering a new era of penalties stiff enough to dissuade cheaters of the massive, rampant, no-deniability variety. But I am.
it! Urban doesn't do things the right way, it's only a matter of time. But until then, more of this please!
I was just going to say this. If there's a silver lining, it's that these sanctions aren't harsh enough to completely scare off a an already-proven dirty program from performing dirty acts. If they get caught doing anything suspicious between now and 2016, they are toast. That will either
a) Force them to be a clean program for the next 5 years, or
b) Turn columbus into the smoking crater it debatably should be right now.
They did name Boom Herron as team mvp, so that's a good start. Is it arrogance or ignorance?
is pretty much public knowledge. I believe it was Gee that even confirmed it, however he stated it was at the players' request, not the administrations.
Also said "We'll still kick their ass!" ,. referring to Michigan, when fans gathered outside his house after he got fired-resigned-retired. He clearly was not trying to lay low after fired-resigned-retired. Didn't he show up the NCAA hearing even though he was recommended not to?
they only report about 40 secondary violations per year, its totally clean all over
Make money money make money money money!
would have thought they received the SMU death penalty. They don't believe that their offenses compare to USC or Miami and want the AD to appeal. I tried to call in the radio show here, but they don't want anyone to give them the truth and tell them they got off easy.
Call in, tell them you're outraged and try to push public opinion towards a lawsuit. (Discovery works both ways but the guys on the radio won't figure that out.)
The OSU reaction that I've heard is just as emphatic as Brian's, only in the other direction. I blame the NCAA's lack of transparency and freedom to disregard precedent (in addition to good old-fashioned homerism) for the divergence of the reactions. The NCAA needs to realize that the attention and money that fans put toward college sports demands a much stronger system for enforcing its rules.
How can our legal system provide for even the most minute details (for example, the seemingly increasingly technical nature of SCOTUS cases), but the NCAA can't write a guideline for enforcement?
It seems like five lawyers in a room with an NCAA rules official should be able to get down categories of offenses and sentencing guidelines that would provide for >90% of cases out there in one weekend in beautiful Indianapolis. Sure, PSU might be unaccounted for, but I'm assuming coaches knowing that guys were getting paid would probably by item one on the agenda.
The prior relationship between Gordon Gee and Mark Emmert guaranteed a double standard in the case. USC should sue the NCAA. I don't agree with that USC did, but it would be great to see Ohio's dirty laundry exposed for the next two years or so.
This is something I don't get. If a Judge has a previous relationship with a defedant or a plantiff, he asks to be recused from the trial. Or if Supreme Court justice has to sit in on a case where he was a prior lower court Judge, he has to recuse himself. How come Emmert doesn't have to recuse himself from this process? I mean maybe legally he doesn't have to but what about ethically?
And if it were EMU that were doing this, they'd get the book thrown at them and THEN they'd get the death penalty.
How much involvement does Emmert have over the COI? I expect it's very little, apart from publicly defending its work. And how would he recuse himself? He's not sitting on the committee itself. Should he resign as president of the NCAA?
And has he ever commented directly on the OSU case? My google search finds him responding to any questions about OSU with boilerplate "institutions must follow the rules" stuff.
However, I think the biggest difference is that judges forced to recuse are because of binding legisltation, as opposed to bylaws of a private organization.
super secret probation through 2013.
is that the NCAA just thinks anything involving the word "agent" is worse than anything else (other than an Albert Means suitcase full of cash).
beating them on the field (while doing the right things off the field).
"We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision," Smith's prepared statement about the penalties begins. He goes on to add, "This decision punishes future students for the actions of others in the past."
I was not aware that previous NCAA penalties only punished the involved individuals. . . It's amazing how out of touch with reality they are.
I, among others I think, would love to see a blogged debate between you and someone from Eleven Warriors on this. From what I've read, they're so adamant over there about the distinctions from USC that point in their favor. Some of the contributors seem rational, so I'd genuinely like the different perspectives fully aired and argued.
Though I agree that, given the new information that has come out since then, there could easily be more debate between Eleven Warriors and MGoBlog. Though I haven't since seen a response from Eleven Warriors regarding the above link, so it seems that Eleven Warriors is simply retracting into their own bubble.
There is still the ESPN lawsuit. Plus the school and its administrators have been made to look ridiculous in the eyes of the nation. That said, these penalties are still not strong enough.
Brian, it's time to issue a call, right? We need an NCAA violation/punishment CHART.
Line up the offending institutions by rows, the rules violations by columns, and the NCAA punishiments as the row summary.
Hmmm--probably have to find a place for assumptions as well.
But--sigh, it wouldn't work. Instead, get a couple grocery bags of oranges, apples, grapes, etc. and match them up randomly.
NCAA rules eforcement a la carte.
I'd love to see a comparison of the penalties incurred by all institutions whose coach received a five year (or less) show-cause penalty. I think the findings might turn out to be very interesting.
USC had documented and confirmed evidence of over $50,000 given to Bush, with allegations of a couple $100k more, from over 3 separate years of play. OSU had $14,000 documented given in small amounts to several players over one apparent 12 month period, with allegations of possibly $10-30k to Pryor. USC also had several key witnesses agree to give full cooperation, wheras OSU did not. I, personally, still think OSU was guilty under the letter and spirit of the law of LOIC, but I do see some non-significant differenes in the meat of the two cases.
USC also had several key witnesses agree to give full cooperation, wheras OSU did not.
That the key witness in the OSU case withdrew his cooperation in fear for his life would not ordinarily be seen as a circumstance mitigating in their favor.
It's not a mitigating factor, it just limited what the NCAA could prove. The agents at the center of the USC case were bitter that Bush didn't end up signing with them, so they had every incentive to cooperate with the NCAA in order to humiliate Bush. USC was just a casualty of their vendetta. In contrast, no one at the center of the OSU scandal really had any incentive to cooperate with the NCAA.
A 2 game suspension is what we consider the "sweet spot"
USC was always going to be the precedent that most assumed the NCAA would use in this situation.They are similar situations in the same sport. USC had one assistant coach know of one player receiving illegal benefits. OSU had their head coach know and cover up the illegal benefits received by 5 players.
The only "WOW" worthy aspect of this episode is that OSU got nothing close to USC's punishment when it is obvious to everyone outside of Columbus and Indianapolis that OSU deserved much worse. As an OSU fan, you should be thankful that you benefitted from the NCAA's incompetence and hope that evidence of further violations doesnt come out.
Give him some credit: that was a very long post to have written from the back of the truck he drives.
is that the players were using Athletic Dept. equipment (helmets, shoulder pads, etc) in some instances to exchange for tats. The fact that it like there was no accountability on OSU's part about what was happening with their equipment and no investigation by the NCAA regarding this aspect leaves me scratching my head.
Is that actually in the COI's findings? I had heard the rumor, but if it's been proven, how in the world did they escape a LOIC?
...the witness who withdrew his cooperation when his life was threatened and the NCAA declined to preserve his anonymity. So, no, they weren't able to prove it.
Youn almost had me before you started using every obnoxious messageboard trope when referring to UM and ESPN.
OSU got off because witnesses stopped talking, friends in high places were identified, and the perception existed that with Tressel gone so too were the bad seeds. I also think that, given the other controversies going on with member schools, there might have been some internal pressure to not drag up bodies that would only draw more scrutiny and bad press.
Apologies if this is a dumb question, but what if more violations from the Tressel era are discovered during the probation period? Would the severity of any additional sanctions be increased because of the probation?
Obviously OSU will get sledgehammered if Meyer is caught cheating while the program is on probation, but what if the violations occurred under Tressel and are just unearthed during the probation period?
I don't think, though, that the newly found infractions would be considered probation violations, so to speak. I'm only saying that because it would seem non-sensical to do the opposite.
For what its worth, I see the NCAA as something similar to a state bar, an entity created by the highest court in each state that all legal practicioners must apply for membership to and pay annual dues to remain a member and in good standing. A State Bar also requires annual (or bi-annual) continuing education courses and certifications of compliance on various matters. Most all lawyers comply with this things or at least make sure to catch up if non-compliant because, if they don't, they lose their livelihood. An expired or revoked law license means you cannot practice law in that state (or any other state, for that matter) and the unlawful practice of law is harshly punished.
I think you can see the difference between these two trade organizations. Both have pretty darn formal structures in place to ensure compliance by each member while one, in particular, undermines its structure by failing to fully enforce the regulations. Its the old addage: Whats the point of having laws if you're not going to enforce them? Eventually, something has to and will give . . . either the NCAA will start hammering non-compliant members or the members will ignore the NCAA entirely. I guess neither time has yet come but, rest assured, something will change some day. We will definitely all be pushing up daisies, but it is what it is.
The problem with that analogy is non-members' incentives to cooperate with investigations of members. With the State Bar, investigations are usually initiated in response to complaints from disgruntled clients. Even though the Bar has no authority over them, clients have every reason to cooperate with State Bar investigations because they want to see the lawyer who wronged them punished. NCAA investigations are usually initiated in response to media reports, anonymous tips, and the like. The NCAA can't count on the cooperation of people over which the it has no authority because they rarely have any incentive to cooperate.
Another issue is that the State Bar primarily regulates individuals whereas the NCAA primarily regulates organizations. Show-cause orders are much less common than sanctions on a program. Those who feel they have been wronged want to see the people who wronged them punished, not the organizations that those people worked for.
The distinctions you point out are very valid. I think the point you make about incentive for the aggrieved party to "prosecute" being much more tangible and powerful in the State Bar situation is a big factor making the analogy worthless. However, I think (?) my point was that the NCAA is essentially regulating "individuals" that essentially do not fear the punishment of non-compliance enough to fully and completely snuff out the wrong-doers. OSU admirably fired Tressel (not technically, but close enough) but this was a pretty eggregious situation.
For those of us, like me, who are old enough and cynical enough to have seen this type of inequity before only one explanation is necessary. It's not what you know (or in this case...did) it's WHO you know. And the administration at OSU are very close personal friends with the NCAA powers that be. USC was not.
This is nothing more than someone putting their personal feelings about an individual above the situation itself. Wasn't the first time it's happened....won't be the last.
Seems the main thing weighing in OSU's favor is that they found the Tressell emails during their own internal investigation, and handed it over to the NCAA on a platter. The Tressell emails were the bombshell that separated this whole situation from run of the mill player misbeavior and ensuing suspensions.
...they did this after a FOIA request to get in front of it before they were published. That's what gets me about this. OSU found pretty much nothing before it was about to go public. Even in the report the NCAA compliments them for 'looking into' if more people were involved, followed up by 'but later additional information identified more people'. heck, they stopped looking into the issue of 'did players receive discounted cars' after the state announced that 'sales tax was paid for all cars'....those are not the same, but OSU said there was no need to look further once the state announced it.
How anyone buys that OSU was in any way helpful in this is beyond me. All they did was stonewall additional information and then agree that what was found was true.
I know cbus is outraged at Smith (suddenly), but I think they need to thank him big time. In
My understanding is that there are essentially 2 parts to any NCAA punishment, analogous to direct damages and punitive. Ignoring the additional penalties added late...In this case the direct damages were completely obvious: vacate wins, pay back bowl money, 5 game (and 2 game...and 1 game) suspensions, and the 5 year show-cause for JT.
The punitive side is where things get odd. There is always a 2 for 1 in scholarships. You could argue for 10, but that's all. But the big question is, where is the punishment for the head coach (whoever that currently is)???
Somehow Smith et al, succesfully made the argument that JT was not the coach at OSU, he was just a guy who should get fired. I know we laughed at Smith for all of his 'mistakes', but in the end they distanced themselves from JT and the NCAA didn't notice.
The thing about this is, that if Ohio would have sat out this years bowl game, which is a lame bowl to begin with, they would probably be in the clear for next year's bowl season. It will hurt the team next year more than this year to miss a bowl game.
Finally ... the editorial that demanded to be published.
Please lets not forget the latest tsio "scam" ... that of the double coaching staffs. They asked for a waiver because of the coaching changes allowing Fickel AND Meyer to act in head coaching responsibilities. Well HELLO ... there is no change. Fickel is staying on staff ... and actually this was discussed between the two at the time Meyer was announced. Remember - everyone at tsio was so happy the Luke would stay on .... just another tsio lie and cheat. It won't stop anytime soon either ...
Does anyone get Andy Staple's argument about the show cause penalty not being all it seems?
But the COI blew it in Tressel's case. The committee gave Tressel a five year show-cause, but the penalty only has teeth for the first five weeks of Tressel's first season, when he must miss games. He also must miss that season's bowl game. Tom, I saw your team on TV this season. We could reanimate Vince Lombardi, put him on your sideline and your team might not make a bowl game in 2012. So Tressel's postseason ban is essentially meaningless in your case. Basically, you can get one of the best coaches in the history of the game, and all it will cost you is five games and a progress report submitted to the NCAA every six months. Tressel can still recruit. He can still hire a staff. All he has to do is sit out five weeks of meetings, practices and games.
I think he's arguing that it's not the "show cause" part of the penalty that matters, ie the need to justify why he should be employed, but the penalties that the COI attaches to the show-cause, in this case the five game suspension. Staples contrasts this with Bruce Pearl's show cause, which forbid him from recruiting for three years, basically killing any chance he could be employed as a coach. In comparison, Tressel would just have to miss games but could carry on all the other functions of a coach if a new institution could get past the show cause committee.
Is this just an exercise in hypotheticals, or has any institution ever tried to get around a show-cause by justifying their hiring of a coach under such a penalty?
...but I don't believe any coach has ever been successfully hired during his show-cause period.