Ohio State's self-imposed penalties seem light, but are reasonable
The reaction was immediate and predictably indignant. As soon as the
There's no way to predict how the NCAA's notoriously inconsistent Committee on Infractions will vote following Ohio State's scheduled Aug. 12 hearing on former coach Jim Tressel's cover-up of known violations by his players. But while the masses may not believe it,
While numerous media outlets (including
There was no Lack of Institutional Control charge (as USC received) or Failure to Monitor charge (as North Carolina recently received). No school employees besides Tressel were implicated of any wrongdoing. The school has no incentive to impose heavier penalties than it issued Friday because the NCAA itself has not indicated anyone other than Tressel and the suspended players should be punished.
The school reinforced that notion in Friday's response by mercilessly painting Tressel as a solitary and brazen culprit. Passages include: "The responsibility is upon Tressel. No other institutional personnel were aware" of anything amiss, and "The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel." Tressel has been widely attacked over the past four months, but one can't help feeling a little sorry for him after seeing just how deep his former employer is burying him under the bus.
(In exchange for Tressel serving as Ohio State's all-encompassing scapegoat, the school was kind enough to waive his previous $250,000 fine and change his "resignation" into a formal "retirement." Isn't that nice.)
From the get go, his former superiors' reactions to the developing scandal have been repeatedly mystifying and clunky. The players in Tattoo Gate were suspended before the Sugar Bowl, but for games that would take place in 2011. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany (who lobbied for the deferred punishment) expressed regret after the fact, and now the school is voluntarily requesting that its bowl victory over Arkansas be stricken from the record.
Tressel was initially suspended just two games for an admitted unethical conduct violation that gets most coaches fired. Asked how he came up with the number, AD Gene Smith called it the "sweet spot." Nearly three months later, Smith reversed course and asked Tressel to resign (a detail he finally owned up to in an interview with the
And for all the reports of Terrelle Pryor's loaner cars and discounted used cars for other players, Smith and the OSU compliance department decreed everything fine and dandy last month after a cursory investigation. Yet on Thursday, they told the
Of course Smith, with the blessing of former Tressel idolizer Gordon Gee, remains gainfully employed.
Those who read
But it doesn't matter what SI, ESPN or Yahoo! report. It's what the NCAA can prove, and that task became much more difficult when Pryor bolted for the pros, freeing him from any obligation to cooperate with NCAA investigators. As of today, the NCAA has not notified the school of any additional allegations. If it does, the Aug. 12 hearing would presumably be delayed, and OSU would be given another opportunity to respond.
Until then -- if "then" even happens -- none of that other noise bears any relevance on the proceedings. The only charge of import is Tressel's lie, for which he will likely be given a healthy show-cause penalty. Theoretically, the Committee can still tack on extra charges (two scholarship reductions for each ineligible player used seems within the realm of possibility). But without a broader charge against the institution, Ohio State may very well escape the massive sanctions everyone seems to think are inevitable.
When that day comes, Twitter might want to employ some extra servers.