Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where’s Double Standard? Ohio State Sanctions Lenient

The folly finally unfolded on the day the NCAA deliberated and reached its final verdict against the Ohio State infractions perpetuated to inflame another brouhaha, considering all that has swirled around the much-publicized scandal in college sports.

Most of the ghastly, rugged penalties puts the university in a complicated situation as the NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and other sanctions on Tuesday for violating NCAA rules that included eight players accepting $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for Buckeyes memorabilia. The severity of penalties was once imposed at USC and caused more havoc as the Trojans were placed on two-year probation, banned from earning any bowl-game appearances and stripped of all wins after former star Reggie Bush accepted improper benefits from prospective agents.

The harsher sanctions – including the Heisman Trust stripping Bush of the prestigious award he won in 2005 and leaving the trophy vacant — rattled Southern California harder than an earthquake. It’s inconceivable, after a lengthy investigation had found that eight players received cash payments and preferential treatment from the owner of a tattoo parlor in Columbus, Ohio, that the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions handed down lighter punishments and would be pigheaded in dropping the hammer justly on any university for wrongdoings.

The purpose of the committee is simply to react properly and inflict harsher, not lenient penalties for violation of the rules — even to forsake defiance and any mockery to academia. The NCAA figured the Buckeyes would not produce more revenue, signify the beauty of the Big Ten, a conference unworthy of its own television network, or increasingly see a growth in TV ratings from a far more prominent university and even go on successive bowl runs had it taken heavier disciplinary actions.

The Buckeyes weren’t hit with a Blackeye. Rename them the Blackeyes had the NCAA imposed the double standard after it harshly handed down sanctions at USC as fans reacted angrily and vented their disillusionment. Yet the NCAA people ruled that Ohio State, a well-known school particularly for its staunch football program, wasn’t as repulsive, severe or contemptible, the reality is the violations were worse than the incidents that materialized in Southern California. With the latest news in full force, it doesn’t make sense that Ohio State wasn’t spanked severely and won’t have to pay the consequences for its sins.

What the NCAA is teaching us is the lack of institutional control and fairness it exercises in handling a horrific situation, regarding a hideous scandal that elicits much humiliation for collegiate sports which is in tremendous disarray, not having its priorities straightened out. The recent outrage, put simply, is the epitome for one of the worst cases in college football and became an issue at Ohio State, following a systemic breakdown and cover up by former head coach Jim Tressel. It was, without a doubt, a far worst scandal than USC.

“We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA’s decision,”Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in his statement. “However, we have decided not to appeal the decision because we need to move forward as institution.”

Surprised, really? Surprised? In a sense, we should be a bit surprised at the fact Ohio State wasn’t punished hard enough. Move forward? Yes, moving forward is a good decision. The standard here is an insult to USC, if anything. It makes no sense whatsoever, but Ohio State got away with wrongdoings and was treated like it has never done anything quite shocking and horrifying. This is a shame, because the justifications for such harsh penalties are ridiculous, flat out ridiculous when the Ohio State violations are contrasted to the USC mess. It must be said, to sound politically correct, that USC was in a quandary but it was never that damn nefarious. It’s your right to feel sorry for the Trojans, and Ohio State, too.

But it’s your right to feel even more sorry for the Trojans when all Bush did was receive cash and gifts from a sordid agent, while Tressel covered up the truth in Columbus as eight of his players were receiving cash and tattoos in exchange for autographed jerseys, rings and other memorabilia. To be frank, it was a worst crime than Bush pocketing money and earning rent-free housing. The disparity of the two scandals is that USC, which was defiant and arrogant of the allegations, wasn't compliant during the investigation when Ohio State cooperated but Tressel lied in his conversations with the NCAA, covering up the dirtiness to try and protect the university’s name. You could easily argue, and maybe it’s a possibility, that Smith’s job is in jeopardy.

The university’s first priority is recovering from the NCAA sanctions, along with the self-imposed penalties. It certainly wasn’t right and, just as USC felt the pain, Ohio State can relate even if the punishment isn’t all so bad. The guess is the school will recover quickly from the sanctions and won’t be affected by it as the newly hired coach Urban Meyer will change the culture in Columbus, Ohio, by recruiting brilliantly, although the stripping of scholarships may have an effect on persuading many of the top-level recruits. The lost of three scholarships a year for the next three years will slow down the process in adding to the depth, but the Buckeyes may still win the Big Ten title and earn the right to play in a BCS bowl.

So maybe former USC coach Peter Carroll, who often said the punishment was too harsh and he would not return, fled because of the mess and accepted the Seattle Seahawks coaching job. So maybe ex-USC athletic director Mike Garrett had a point when he was critical of the NCAA and said at an alumni gathering after the penalties were imposed that the NCAA was jealous of the Trojans. It’s almost ironic that Smith remains the Buckeyes AD despite the stain at Ohio State, while Pat Haden was hired to purge all traces of ruination and clean house. When the sanctions were announced, he repeated that the university had not agreed with the rulings

“We had our two shots,” Haden said. “We were disappointed with the results, but we have gotten beyond that and are moving forward.”

If the school really want to seek revenge or fight for rights, USC could sue the NCAA and maybe have the sanctions reversed, but it would cost the university about $5 million.

It almost feels as if collegiate sports are politics, prompting largely a debate around the nation, as the folks locally are questioning and ripping the NCAA for inequality and slapping the Buckeyes on the wrist. This is a school under scrutiny, but apparently not as much as USC dealt with the shame of a bloated, formidable scandal. As it turns out, the Trojans weren’t made the men of Troy but the poster boys. Wrong as it is, Alex Holmes – a former Trojan and teammate with Bush – blasted the NCAA irate about the sanctions involving Ohio State via Twitter Tuesday morning.

“I just don’t get it,” Holmes said after reading that the Buckeyes will be docked nine scholarships and only banned for one postseason. “I don’t understand the NCAA’s logic.”

Yeah, I don’t think no one does.

Beyond all, he was unhappy and confused mainly that USC was docked 30 scholarships over the next three years for one player’s bad actions, while Ohio State was stripped of nine scholarships over a similar span for breaking rules with Tressel having full knowledge of the misdeeds. You can bet the NCAA justice system won’t revisit harshness, after the Trojans were treated unfairly and the Buckeyes were treated like the gods.

Seems unfair, right?

The justice system is deceiving in its own way and has never been a respectable or an impartial scheme but dreary over the years. Because there are no written orders all through an investigation, it leaves out important details that could be helpful if no eyewitnesses talk to provide information for a better understanding on the allegations.

But if you want a school to pay the price, punish every collegiate program fairly. It’s called the double standard.