Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jim Tressel Keeps His Job at Ohio State, but Should He?

Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel just got smacked with a two-game suspension and a $250,000 fine for not notifying the NCAA that he knew two of his players were under investigation by the FBI. The players in question were also receiving improper benefits for selling property they owned.

In an email sent to Tressel by a lawyer dated April 2, 2010, Tressel was made fully aware of the infractions. Oddly, he opted to plead the fifth and not notify Ohio State officials or the NCAA. That means

Tressel kept the information to himself for nine months.

Tressel did his best to live up to the code of keeping your mouth shut and not ratting anyone out, but the cat is out of the bag now.

All of this over five guys who sold items they owned for a few extra bucks.

Tressel issued the following at his weak press conference yesterday regarding the "E-Gate" scandal, saying, "I take responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously. Obviously I plan to grow from this. I'm sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and that I didn't do some things as well as I could possibly do."

Tressel has a clause in his contract that mandates he reports infractions he's aware of to the proper channels, and failure to do so could result in his termination.

This information should have been reported directly to athletic director Gene Smith, and the ball should have rolled from there. But based on Smith's comments at the press conference, whether Tressel had gone to Smith or not, Tressel's job is safe.

"Wherever we end up, Jim Tressel is our football coach," Smith said. "He is our coach, and we trust him implicitly."

How you can you "trust" a coach who knowingly withheld information?

How can you "trust" a coach who allowed his players to get bashed in the media as he played dumb and remained silent?

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit had no problems blasting Terrelle Pryor and his four teammates for their unacceptable behavior.

After the players were suspended, Herbstreit said, "This is a selfish act by Pryor and the other players."
Herbstreit was vocal about the players being "selfish," but why is Mr. Ohio State silent now?

While the likes of Herbstreit and the rest of the media were busy blistering the five suspended players, Tressel faked amnesia for nine months and allowed his players to be scrutinized because he didn't have the stones to tell the truth.

Despite the vote of confidence from Smith, I believe Tressel should be fired.

The time has come for athletic programs and the NCAA to stop engaging in blatant hypocritical behavior. College coaches who earn millions of dollars continue to incur minor punishments for major infractions compared to the athletes.

Cam Newton has been consistently shellacked by the media for what he did as a freshman at Florida and for his father allegedly brokering a deal with Mississippi State prior to his junior year.

The media created an atmosphere for Dez Bryant to get suspended by the NCAA for the final 10 games of his junior year at Oklahoma State—all because he lied about having a meal with Deion Sanders.

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green was suspended four games for selling a game jersey he owned for extra cash.

Pryor and four teammates were suspended five games starting next season, yet they were allowed to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl game.

The NCAA must make that loot for the sponsors, right?

Bottom line, Tressel should be fired.

But since the program doesn't have the guts to do the right thing, at least administer a legit suspension and fine.

If the Ohio State players must miss nearly half of next season, then Tressel should be disciplined in a similar fashion, plus forego half his annual salary.

What's good for the goose (players) is good for the gander (coaches), right?

Sadly, it is not about equitable administration of justice.

Tennessee Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators, was suspended by the SEC for eight games and got his contract reworked.

After Pearl gave a tearful apology at a press conference in early September, it was alleged two weeks ago that he committed more NCAA infractions just four days afterward.

That Pearl is a piece of work, isn't he?

Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino was in court last year. Pitino was the victim of extortion, yet it was revealed he was having an extramarital affair. His poor personal choices brought shame to the university, but he was not subject to any discipline from Louisville or the NCAA.

Seemingly everywhere current Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari goes trouble follows him.  Facts indicate Calipari has forfeited two Final Fours (1996 and 2007) because of NCAA infractions that transpired on his watch. Still, he continues to coach without truly facing the wrath of the media like the athletes do.

Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun just got hit with a three-game suspension commencing next season for violating NCAA rules.

If the players are penalized harshly and bashed by the media, why aren't the coaches?

Furthermore, is it merely a coincidence the players largely victimized are African-American, and the coaches who escape legit punishments are largely white?

Hey, I'm just making an observation.

At day's end, this isn't about players selling their own property—which is legal in society—or coaches getting off easy.

It's about truly legitimizing the NCAA to properly govern instead of haphazardly enforcing rules that are truly idiotic and favor those in authority.

It's about the NCAA running a mafia-like operation that has cleverly exempted itself from being regulated.
Millionaire coaches—who are supposed to provide leadership and serve as role models for athletes—continually engage in unacceptable behavior, yet the NCAA and athletic programs protect their coaches like referees protect quarterbacks in the NFL.

What's the solution here?

Many of the problems that hamper collegiate athletics rest squarely on the shoulders of the NCAA, their ridiculous rules and blatant hypocrisy. These nameless, faceless people simply hold too much indiscriminate power.

They create legislation that is utterly ridiculous where the athletes—who are the most vital part of the athletic equation—consistently get dumped on.

Pryor and his teammates were suspended for engaging in an activity that is legal in society.  Last time I checked, if someone owns a piece of property, they have a right to sell it. Yet, they are made examples of.
Players like Pryor—who aid in raking in millions of dollars for the institution, the Big Ten and the NCAA—deserve to be paid a stipend over and above what they get in scholarship money.

In short, pay the athletes and some of the senseless, spineless coaches like Tressel won't have to lie, and institutions like Ohio State won't look so foolish.

All of this over a few players who needed a few extra bucks.

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