Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Ohio State shenanigans update

I'm not sure who deserves the most credit for this, so I'll just throw it toward Ohio State in general: There has never in the history of time been a story that has oozed out at such a spectacularly consistent pace, with new and equally damning information coming out on a near-daily basis from any and every news source with even a tangential interest. Years of poorly managed coverups have left a pile of media gold, and everybody wants in on the action (BTW, this is probably the first time smart people have ever been rushing toward Columbus).

Friday's discovery: Jim Tressel apparently wasn't quite the saint the school made him out to be (gasp).
An evaluation of former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel's job performance in 2005-06 rated him as "unacceptable" when it came to self-reporting rules violations in a timely manner.

In addition, Tressel was issued a letter of reprimand barely six months into his tenure for giving a Buckeyes jersey to a recruit, a violation of NCAA bylaws. He also was warned that he and his staff needed to do a better job of monitoring the cars the players were driving -- an issue that would arise years later as the NCAA investigated the football program.

I thought Tressel was "a man of integrity and high moral standards," so much so that he should be forgiven for his "indecisiveness" and allowed to retire with full benefits and no punishment whatsoever? No? Maybe we should have listened to Maurice Clarett or taken the Youngstown State violations a little more seriously.

Tressel was cheating left and right, and the stuff that just came out publicly within the last month was known by compliance as far back as 2003 (!). Nothing happened, though, because either he lied and the compliance people stopped checking/caring (probable) or compliance covered it up (plausible -- more on that momentarily); either way, OSU comes out looking incompetent and another document gets added to the Cheatypants McSweatervest file.

And speaking of incompetence, it's funny how the story from three weeks ago ...
Tressel was not told he would be fired if he didn’t quit, Gee said.

“He was not given an ultimatum.”
... conveniently changes when the NCAA comes calling ...

On pages I-9 and 4-2 of its response, Ohio State reported the following “punitive action” to the NCAA: Sought and accepted the resignation of Tressel on May 30, 2011.
... and then changes back just so Tressel can step away with a lovely parting gift ...

Ohio State has since announced that Tressel will not have to pay the $250,000 “fine” Smith referred to on March 8.

Instead, the university will pay him $52,250 - the equivalent of the salary and benefits he would have earned through the end of June 30th.

Tressel also will collect his unpaid sick and vacation time up to 250 hours and will be eligible for health-insurance coverage for himself and his family under the plan available to all state retirees, according to the settlement.

... while the opposite story is being sold to the NCAA at the exact same time.

"It's all Tressel's fault, and we're totally gonna punish him ... really, we will ... just trust us ... now look away for a minute." Seriously, my 4-year-old is more believable.

And we're not done yet!

Ohio State University's director of NCAA compliance signed an invoice for more than $600 in car repairs for a student-athlete in April.

According to a document obtained Friday by 10 Investigates, Doug Archie, the university's director of NCAA compliance, signed an invoice for a six-hour car repair to Auto Direct for $606.

A purchase form signed by Archie said that the money came out of the "Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund."

The NCAA backs the fund. While the guidelines are not exhaustive, the list does not show car repairs, Aker reported. Some examples of how the fund is supposed to be used include summer school, medical expenses, travel for family emergencies or academic achievement awards.
That sounds totally legit ... I mean, I'm sure it's normal for a school's director of compliance to authorize emergency student funds to go toward an athlete's car repair, which just happens to be taking place at a dealership so friendly to the football program that it's willing to give certain quarterbacks a half-dozen loaner cars in the span of a year. (Interesting note: The Bylaw Blog doesn't seem totally convinced of the analysis, tweeting "Not sure an agent is the best source for NCAA rules interpretations," which duh. Sadly, he doesn't offer any thoughts on whether it's actually as bad as it looks or what the interpretation should be.)

I'll try to be serious for a paragraph here (deep breath): Amazingly, of all the stuff that's come out so far about improper benefits and Tressel's hilariously inept coverups and whatnot, this might be the most damaging -- we're talking about the school's director of compliance. There is no getting out of this one; signing off on an apparently fraudulent bill to the NCAA -- one that's perched precariously on top of the loaner-car iceberg -- all but throws the entire athletic department into Tressel's mostly sunken ship. And given the availability of the evidence, even a half-assed investigation by the NCAA would have turned up that document and plenty more.

Ohio State is rewriting the definition of "lack of institution control" right in front of our eyes while turning up its collective nose at the people trying to investigate; regardless of whether the NCAA wants a do-over on its notice of allegations (which seems likely but could just be taking a while because of the spectacular depth of violations), there's simply no conceivable way the punishment won't be severe.

I would pay good money (no joke) for a front-row seat on August 12, when the Committee on Infractions gets to LOL at Ohio State's response while deciding just how bad things should be. If the head of compliance was truly complicit in an improper-benefits coverup, nothing short of the death penalty should be off the table.

I'll prepare my popcorn.

NOTE: Seeing as how Ohio State has been kind enough to provide me with so much awesome content on an amazingly regular basis, I think I should return the favor in creative form: This neverending bag of goodies really could use some sort of ridiculous name, kind of like The Daily Show's "Mess O' Potamia" or "Whaa???"

Any suggestions? Winner gets a prize*.

*Prize does not actually exist.


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