Fourth and Long

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Once again the NCAA got it wrong.

I have said it before and I will say it again, the NCAA’s marketing campaign as an advocate for student athletes and amateur sports is a joke. Easier said, the NCAA is a joke.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock you know all about what has gone down in Columbus, Ohio over the last two years. Eight players took $14,000 in money and free tattoos.

Head Coach Jim Tressel was made aware of it via email. Tressel did NOT notify the NCAA and Tressel did NOT notify his school of these violations. Tressel DID, however, warn starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s advisors that others knew about what was happening. One can only assume he did so in hopes that Pryor could better cover his tracks and not get caught.

Upon realizing what had been happening at Ohio State, the NCAA cleared the players and coaches to participate in the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl so long as they promised to stick around and serve their five-game suspension this season.

Ohio State decided that seemed reasonable and also allowed the players and Coach Tressel to participate in the bowl game.

It was announced this week, however, that upon further investigation and deliberation the NCAA is punishing Ohio State with the loss of three scholarships, an extra year of probation (whatever that means) and a ban on postseason play next season.

In short, the NCAA will punish the new coaching staff and younger players for what a former coach and players did. They will do so having knowingly allowed the guilty players and coach to go unpunished until after their BCS bowl.

This is a travesty. How do you not punish the guilty players and coach by not allowing them to participate in the Sugar Bowl, but then have the audacity to reprimand innocent coaches and players by not allowing them to participate in any bowl game they might be eligible for next season, including the Big Ten Championship game.

I have a crazy theory – I think it has something to do with money. Maybe, just maybe, the NCAA was influenced by their 500 million dollar payday with ESPN who televised the game. Maybe they were swayed by Sugar Bowl officials who had committed to Ohio State’s participation in the bowl, but didn’t want to lose part of their 8.4 Nielsen rating and 17 million dollar payout.

I know it seems whacky that people could be influenced by hundreds of millions of dollars. I also know the NCAA has never given us any reason to believe that they might have a conflict of interest in regards to enforcement of their constantly changing rules.

I hope by this point you know that I am being sarcastic.

The NCAA is a hypocrite and a monopoly and until they are removed from the equation the most visible parts of college athletics will continue to be a bad joke told over and over again.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at