Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coal in OSU's stockings: five players to be suspended. But not immediately.

Well by now Buckeye Nation has had a couple hours to digest the news that five Ohio State football players will be suspended for selling some of their personal memorabilia, including Big Ten championship rings, jerseys, and Gold Pants awards, all for a couple thousand dollars.

Five players were found to have sold awards, gifts and university apparel, plus receive improper benefits in 2009. In addition to missing five games next season, Terrell Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey and Solomon Thomas must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity.

Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university for players on a team which beat arch-rival Michigan.
Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.
Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.
This sucks.

For everyone involved.

The players look like greedy selfish children.  Selling your gold pants?  Is there no sense of history for the players? And don't give me the excuse that they didn't know better.

Coach Tressel and AD Gene Smith look guilty themselves, or at the very least, apologetic.  They are claiming that there are "mitigating circumstances" and will appeal the suspensions.  While at first glance, that sounds idiotic, it turns out that the NCAA is basically conceding the point.

The NCAA is embarassing.  The sentence handed down by the NCAA, inexplicably, does not suspend any of the players for the Sugar Bowl in two weeks, because "the players did not receive adequate rules education" and "Ohio State did not receive competitive advantage."  Instead they will be suspended for the first five games of 2011.  What possible precedent would there be for handing down punishment, but postponing it?  Ridiculous.  If they indeed should be suspended, it must happen immediately.  The "we didn't tell them" defense should not excuse Ohio State.  If they broke the rules, the university should be punished.  And immediately.

And of course, the headliners here--especially Pryor and Herron--could very well decide to forgo their college careers and head to the NFL, rather than sit out half their senior years.  So is it any punishment at all?   More likely, again, the BCS, the money, the sponsors, all don't want to see a punchless Ohio State team in the high-profile and heavily sponsored Sugar Bowl.  The hypocrisy here is sickening.

Of course, the irony is that this 2011 suspension hurts the team--if that even matters here--more than a suspension for the bowl would.  If the NCAA had described it in this manner, this would look better.  But in true NCAA fashion, they didn't.

Sad statement all around.  In addition, initial reports suggest that Pryor may have needed money to help his family, so he sold property that belonged to him, so this may very well start a debate, once again, on what student-athletes are supposed to do for cash.  By rule, they can't earn any money for themselves while simultaneously pouring millions of dollars into their schools' coffers.  That is not an excuse.  But it's a sad statement on the entire system.

The system that is broken.  So much so, that I don't even know where to start fixing it.