Ohio State football scandal: Is coach or 'hypocritical' NCAA to blame?
The resignation of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel holds lessons for the university, college football programs elsewhere, and the NCAA, say sports analysts. But few expect rule-breaking to abate.
(Page 2 of 2)
“This is a case where Americans and college sports fans should proceed with caution in terms of making judgments,” she adds. “Many of us have known for a while that the nature of this business is such that good people get caught trying to make very difficult decisions.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Tressel had won big since becoming head coach at Ohio State in 2001, including eight BCS bowls in 10 years, a 106-22 overall record, and a national championship. Off the field, Tressel had an upright reputation. He had written a book on religious faith and high achievement.
“This is another case of the shark-like, business side of collegiate sports coming to outweigh the value and educational welfare that should be paramount in a university setting,” says Dave Czeniuk, director of operations at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. He notes OSU President Gee's initial attempt to wave off the case.
“It’s evidence of how much deference the football program is given by the university president. It’s ridiculous,” says Mr. Czeniuk. “It sends the wrong message that sports trumps everything at their university.” That has happened because of the amount of money football brings to the university and how important football is to alumni who make donations, he says.
"I don’t think Tressel is the only one to blame,” says Czeniuk. “University leadership needs to take serious stock and make sure that they are promoting the right things and values.”
Although some sports writers say Tressel’s resignation will have a ripple effect in the world of college football, Mr. Huguenin at Rivals.com disagrees.
“Frankly, I don’t think it will be long-lasting. College athletics has had an extraordinary number of allegations of rules-breaking in the past 18 months, and I think much of it is shrugged off as ‘Everybody does it.’ I think everybody does do it, but the magnitude is the difference. There seems to be little black and white in the NCAA rule book – at least how the NCAA interprets it – and I think a lot of coaches live in those gray areas.”
The university has bungled the affair because it is in the business of education more than public relations, says Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Projects, a marketing and branding firm. “Universities are not really set up to manage reputational disasters. They are cloistered places that don’t like to think of themselves [as being] in the harsh capitalist world,” he says.
The entire culture needs to accept responsibility, says Perry Zirkel, professor of education and law at Lehigh University, who has written extensively about the issue of college athletics and scholarships.
“In the present big-time business of college football and basketball, such behavior – even among those who exhibit a real emphasis on integrity – appears to be part of the ‘game,’ ” he says in an e-mail. “We need systemic changes but we do not have the commitment to make them due to the seductive benefits of the present arrangement.”