What happened at Ohio State is sad because the actions of a few people, including the head coach, have effected the rest of the team, its fans, and the reputation of the school’s athletic program.
We can get into the hypocrisy of the NCAA rules and regulations, and whether or not players should be paid, but the fact remains that Jim Tressel hid the truth on his players selling their memorabilia, and the “Tattoo 5” sold several items they were not allowed to sell until they left school.
Those are the reasons the NCAA will come down hard on the Buckeye football program, and also the reason Tressel is no longer the coach at Ohio State.
In defense of the program, the violations were not the most serious by most people’s opinion. There was no recruiting advantages gained, nor were there any academic issues, such as grade changing.
Instead, it was players selling their own stuff. Unfortunately, that merchandise was given to them as a result of their athletic exploits, and they are not allowed to trade or sell them until they are no longer at the school.
Tressel knew the players were involved and did not report the problems to the school administration or the NCAA.
He did that knowing they likely would have been suspended by the powers that be for breaking the rules.
Therefore, he played ineligible players.
The odd thing here is that even though the NCAA knew this occurred, they allowed the players to play in the Sugar Bowl, which is a BCS game.
So, they were wrong to break the rules, but we can’t allow something like that to effect one of the featured bowl games of the post season.
That would be wrong. This is where the NCAA shows its slimy side.
The merchandise sales conducted by the players involved is either a generational thing, or it shows how disconnected these athletes are to the university they represent.
Imagine being a kid growing up in Ohio, dreaming of playing one day for the Buckeyes, and getting a pair of gold pants for beating the school up north. You would treasure them forever.
Not these guys. It became a way to get free tattoos, just like a Big Ten championship ring or bowl game merchandise.
When you live with lice, you get lousy.
This is what the coach got when he went after the elite athletes who are not from Ohio. Some have a questionable character, some have a different agenda. Some of them don’t have the pride in being a Buckeye that players in the past have had.
Still, Tressel can justify in his mind that he was protecting his players, but as soon as he heard his players were selling memorabilia, he should have told his athletic director and the compliance people at OSU.
Had that been done, the players would have been suspended, possibly for less than the five games they eventually received, and Tressel would still be the head coach at Ohio State.
The former coach comes off as a guy who is like some politicians, which is ironic, because some nicknamed him “The Senator”. He thought he was big enough to sweep the info under the rug.
Many supporters say Tressel is a good man, and there isn’t a doubt of that, but he violated the trust of the university and ultimately, the NCAA.
He lost his job because of it.