“So when we sell their likeness for video games, how do we get around paying our slav…ahem…”student athletes” then?”
Although Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis has bemoaned the demise of the NFL betting that most of us will turn to crime, last night I took a moment out of my bank robbing plans to tune into South Park. Little did I know that the CBAA (Crack Baby Athletic Association) is struggling with some of the same issues as the NCAA. If you haven’t seen the entire episode, tune in. It is an eye-opening expose.
I’ve been collecting tabs on my browser of things I’ve been meaning to write about so let’s dive right in:
They Don’t Do This in the SEC
Not only do the Buckeyes prove themselves on the field, they continue to do it in the classroom also. According to The Lantern, 523 Ohio State athletes along with 40 football players were honored for their academic accomplishments. In an excellent commentary, Adam Hawkins reports that the NCAA recognized the Ohio State football team for their academic progress between 2006 and 2010. The Buckeyes carry a multi-year average APR score of 985 out of 1000 — 36 points higher than the FBS national average. Ohio State was one of 14 teams honored along with fellow Big Ten team Northwestern.
From the SEC? Well, Vanderbilt made it.
Those who continue to throw accusations of corruption at Ohio State and call for the firing of Coach Tressel need to keep this in mind. Coach Tressel has done good things for this university and accomplishments like this need to be taken into consideration.
Did you say something Ray?
Ray Small, a former member of the Ohio State football team not remembered for his academic prowess, voiced his thoughts about player benefits earlier this week. Small admitted to The Lantern that he had sold some of his Ohio State items including a Big Ten Championship ring and received discounts saying that “everyone” did it.
Although the article may appear to be more hard evidence against Ohio State, it does bring out some important points. Small clearly points out that the university explained the rules and that it’s the players, not the university that is at fault.
“They explain the rules to you, but as a kid you’re not really listening to all of them rules,” Small said. “You go out and you just, people show you so much love, you don’t even think about the rules. You’re just like ‘Ah man, it’s cool.’ You take it, and next thing you know the NCAA is down your back.”
It’s also important to note Small’s comment about the fans. As long as there are fans, there will be people who are willing to offer benefits. They are not doing it to help recruit a player or because they want to ensure the player stays at Ohio State. They are doing it because they are fans. They want to be able to drop names on the golf course. How many small business owners (or large business for that matter) in Columbus would turn down the opportunity to say that a star football player frequents their business. There is value in being able to tell customers that you sold a car to the all-star quarterback. Selling a car at just over cost might pay off when you tell the next customer, “I just sold a model just like this to…”
These aren’t recruiting violations folks. These are fans who wanted to get closer to the players. In no way did a player make a decision to play at Ohio State because he might get a free cup of coffee here and there.
Big Ten Looks at Pay for Play
One of the earliest issues to come out of tattoo gate was the player’s inability to afford their day to day living expenses. Small said that he used money he raised selling Ohio State memorabilia to pay for day to day living expenses.
And like the
slaves “student athletes” in the CBAA, there are an awful lot of people making an awful lot of money off the names of these athletes.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany addressed the situation last week at the Big Ten conference meetings. He pointed out that 40 years ago, student athletes received money for laundry and other small expenses but they don’t now. Delany pointed out that some of the money coming in from the Big Ten Network could be used to help athletes pay living expenses. He also acknowledged that doing so would create an uneven playing field between the haves and have nots.
Ohio State has athletes (not just football) who not only put in the equivalent of a full-time job training for their sport and maintain high academic standards. Unlike non-athletes, they can’t pick up a part-time job. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has mentioned the idea of a trust fund which could be used by students for small expenses and it’s a plan whose time may have come. Require that spending is tracked (teaching budgeting), academic standards are maintained and if for some reason the student doesn’t go pro after college, possibly give them a small stipend as a thank you for their dedication.
Don’t know if you saw the cover of ESPN Magazine last week but talk about taking things over the top. In an issue filled with articles on cheating (ie. how to throw a spit ball), they choose a red sweater vest for the cover.
Go North Young Man!
Indianapolis and Chicago are duking it out for the right to host the Big Ten championship. The is a no brainer folks — Soldier Field in Chicago. Yeah, a snow covered field with fans fighting frostbite as the winds roll in off Lake Michigan may not be the best prep for the warm climate bowls but this is the Big Ten. Let the SEC have their scantly clad women and warm weather. These are the conditions in which legends are made. Rival.com’s Dan Wetzel sums it up best when he says “A neutral site shouldn’t be a neutered site.”
One of the most interesting things to watch will be the return of the suspended players. After struggling to earn their spot on the field, especially at quarterback, will they be able to step aside for the senior players on the team?
My prediction, as long as Coach Tressel is allowed to stay (and it would be tragic if he doesn’t), they will. If anyone can pull a team together and develop not only leaders but teammates, it’s Coach Tressel. Joe Bauserman has been in this role before. He’s stepped aside when the time came. Don’t think for a minute that Braxton Miller won’t also if needed. Although the players may have been suspended, they will still be there for practice.
Personally, once we get through the distractions and all is behind, this is going to be a tough football team. Not only are Miller and Bauserman competing for a starting role but Pryor and the other seniors are also.