Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Washington Post column: Ohio State’s Jim Tressel gets axed, but rotting wood remains in college athletics

Here is today's article for The Washington Post ----------

There are so many issues connected to Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s “resignation” Monday that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Let’s start with this: Tressel resigned the way Richard Nixon resigned. Even with his hapless bosses, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith, trying to push back the growing wave of accusations, Tressel finally ran out of the nine lives given to a coach with a record of 106-22.

What happened Monday is pretty easy to figure out: Ohio State goes before the NCAA infractions committee Aug. 12. To enter that hearing with Tressel still in place as football coach would have sent the following message to the committee: “We’re Ohio State. This coach wins most of the time and beats Michigan all the time. We don’t care that his program was apparently out of control or that he engaged in a cover-up of clear NCAA rules violations. We have some tickets here for our opener next month. Would one of you like to dot the ‘i’?”

That probably wouldn’t play well in that room. That’s why Tressel had to go.

Even so, there are still myriad questions surrounding the Ohio State football program.

Exactly how widespread were the violations that ex-players are saying were commonplace?

Exactly how long can Smith keep his job after declaring on Dec. 23 that the memorabilia-for- tattoos episode “an isolated incident”? Or, more specifically, why should he keep his job? survive?

As recently as two weeks ago, Smith insisted he supported Tressel. In March, when reports first surfaced that Tressel had covered up for players who should have been ineligible at the start of last season, Smith did a fly-by for a quickie news conference in Columbus, then raced back to serve his role as NCAA men’s basketball committee chairman. With his house was burning down, Smith came home just long enough to make sure the doors were locked.

As for Gee, how can anyone connected to Ohio State want the bow-tied president around for even five more minutes? He already made a fool of himself with his whiny comments about non-BCS teams last fall (which, to his credit, he admitted were ridiculous after being blasted nationally ) and then, just to prove that bit of stupidity wasn’t a fluke, he made his incredible, “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t fire me,” wisecrack during that March news conference.

Click here for the rest of the column: Ohio State’s Jim Tressel gets axed, but rotting wood remains in college athletics


Anonymous said...

I heard this story on the radio a few years ago: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/06/06/letters-from-mom.html?sid=101

It's hard to reconcile Gordon Gee the good father with Gordon Gee presiding over an athletic cesspool.

Rory Wohl said...

We seem to hear about these violations in college basketball and football, but not so much in college baseball.

Is that because there's significantly less money (for the schools) involved in baseball, even though baseball's a significant professional sport? (I'm just guessing that's the case.)

Or is there something inherently different/better about the way baseball is configured (i.e., having a true minor league system)?

Would be curious as to your thoughts.

Mr. X said...

It seems that this story only came to light because some former OSU players started asking questions and coming clean to reporters. So how much is Auburn paying current and former players to keep quiet?

Dave W Syracuse said...

The reason there are no scandals in NCAA baseball or hockey is obvious. The players truly interested in a college education go to school. The players who are interested in being pro athletes sign for their fair value with MLB or NHL teams and start their careers out of high school in the minor leagues. I can't see a system of universities paying football and basketball players that would solve this problem. Obvious 1st rd. draft choice talent will and should not be satisfied with the same stipend as the last player on the bench. The only answer is minor league football and basketball and the NFL and NBA have no more interest in losing their free development leagues than the schools do in losing their mill...er BILIONS of dollars in TV money.

Anonymous said...

You said:
Everyone needs to be fired at Ohio State — except maybe for the band director.
Thank you for that.
- fred

Jason Connor said...

It seems the only way to combat this is to come down VERY hard on the schools. Currently a coach gets fired and the school claims they've rooted out the problem, the shifty coach, and the NCAA should be lenient. Then the coach goes to another big school where he does his dirty work until he's caught again (John Calipari anyone?) and the school hires another shifty coach to win until he gets caught.

Only if the NCAA comes down VERY hard every time will other schools start thinking "We better not hire Tressel, we can't afford for him to do that here." And only then will schools hiring coaches actually look for coaches with integrity (like, oddly enough, Bob Knight, and of course and Gary Williams) not just coaches that preach integrity (Jim Tressel).

Scott said...

In your column you said that "99% of the fans who attend college football and basketball games couldn't care less...." I must be one of the 1% because I do care. After paying for 2 colleges attendees, one of which was a student athlete, I still care about putting people out into the real world who aren't ready to be self sufficient. As I look at the athletes that come out of college today, even those who make it to the pros, I see young adults who, if it wasn't for the money they make, aren't ready to succeed as people in the real world when the money runs out or gets taken, wasted, or lost. What ever the length of an athlete's career he or she still has to survive when the career is over. Do they learn how to do that in the one and out scenario or the "I played for 4 years" scenario. I don't know, but I hear about an awful lot of those who don't. The school, the parents, and the athletic program are letting them down and putting money into a losing situation when there are too many young people who could succeed with an education and are being overlooked because the don't throw a ball or shoot a bucket or hit a home run. Where is the school or the parent's return on investment?
As for paying them and coming out of the closet - they are already doing that. What does one year of college cost? Do they declare that money on a tax return? I don't think so. So who really is paying for their college "education?

Anonymous said...

The correct way to say the afore mentioned school's name is "THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY".

max said...

Gene Smith is a major player on the college scene and had been identified as one of the 50 most powerful "African-Americans in sports." I personally do not believe he will go as quietly as most people think he will. The NAACP might not be happy.

There is no way in the world Ohio State will receive a TV ban of any length like Maryland did. That stuff does not fly anymore.

I am for paying all the athletes in the school (men & women) an equal amount of money (a couple hundred each month). Right now most of it goes to the coach or school and they already have enough money.

Anonymous said...


Maybe it is time to split the major sports from the universities entirely and let them do as they want to. I believe that the main mission of colleges and universities is to turn out well educated young adults and it now seems that big time athletics is a major distraction from main mission of our schools

George Lawton said...

Your comment, "... why not abandon the charade" [and let big money take over college sports] is a mistake of the worst order. College should be primarily about education, not sports, which have their rightful place but should not be as they are today. What's wrong is that today's system is all about "the money". Let's reform the system, make academic excellence the goal and hold athletes to the same standard as all other students. Let's return to amateur athletics and not have colleges be farm teams for pro sports