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Last Vestige of NCAA Credibility at Stake With Ohio State Punishment

Reports went unverified. Sources declined to cooperate. Ohio State was off the hook. The NCAA opted not to hit the school with “failure to monitor” and “lack of institutional control” charges that, almost certainly, would have brought a postseason ban and crippling scholarship reductions. They merely had to keep their nose clean for a few months before the COI hearing, and they couldn’t do it. They could not even wait long enough for the NCAA to approve their self-imposed probation before violating it.

DeVier Posey, Boom Herron and Marcus Hall will all face at least a one-game suspension for accepting improper benefits through booster Robert DiGeronimo. The former two were already suspended five games for accepting improper benefits. Each accepted hundreds of dollars in excess payment for work performed for DiGeronimo’s company. Posey also accepted a free golf outing. The trio did not register the jobs with the university.

How does this happen? The players were dumb, but where is the Ohio State compliance department? After everything that’s happened, the football program should have been on compliance lockdown. Anything remotely suspicious should have been shut down. Posey and Herron, already suspended, should not have broken wind without a compliance staff member smelling it. Yet, these guys are still associating and having financial dealings with known boosters after the Tattoo-gate scandal? Did the compliance staff not educate players, were they naive or were they willfully ignorant?

Last December, this same compliance department “investigated” the Tattoo-gate scandal and found no evidence of wrongdoing. This investigation (a) missed everything found by George Dohrmann that, at the very least, looked suspicious, (b) took Jim Tressel’s word as gospel without bothering to verify it. Oops! and (c) conveniently found exactly what Ohio State, the Big Ten and the BCS wanted to get players eligible for the Sugar Bowl. This is not self-policing. It is damage control.

What was athletic director Gene Smith’s response? His now customary “nothing to see here. Move along, folks” speech. There’s nothing else here! Really! You can trust us this time! This was “individual failures, failures of individual athletes” and “not a systemic failure of compliance.” Boban Savovic, Maurice Clarett, Marco Cooper, Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey (twice), Boom Herron (twice), Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas, Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown. Individuals, all of them. Smith’s statements are disproven simply by the number of times he has had to utter them.

Ohio State, before the NCAA could punish it for players accepting improper benefits, had the same players, purportedly educated and penitent, accept improper benefits. That is ridiculous. If what happened doesn’t scream “failure to monitor” and “lack of institutional control,” the terms need new definitions.

The players’ crimes are certainly tear drops in the NCAA’s well of corruption (Bowl officials spend more on political bribes and strip club visits). Ohio State fans almost certainly have a credible argument that such malfeasances occur at every major program. However, the NCAA must have the rule of law, and it advancing credibly is impossible without punishing blatant violations.  [Photo via Getty]

Previously: Ohio State Loses Dignity But Likely Avoids Tangible Punishment
Previously: Jim Tressel’s Self Defense is Implausible and Dishonest
Previously: Terrelle Pryor’s Ohio State Career Is Probably Over

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