NCAA Gets Message On Ohio State

Sure, Jim Tressel looks like a crook. But isn't it time the NCAA had to face the music, too? For years the so-called governing body of college athletics has instead appeared to be a security blanket for the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Notre Dame.

As Alabama fans are painfully aware, the Crimson Tide's record of total cooperation with NCAA investigators has resulted in Bama receiving unprecedented penalties and gaining a reputation of a lack of compliance.

Meanwhile, it has appeared that Big Ten, Pac-10 and others got a wink and a nod: Stonewall, don't cooperate, and we'll make it go away or whitewash it. (Some outside seem to have taken this practice to heart.)

This isn't the first time Ohio State has come up in NCAA violations lore. Maurice Clarett, the outstanding running back for the Buckeyes, seemingly told everyone who would listen that he had received extra benefits, financially and academically.

The NCAA Enforcement Staff was like two of the three monkeys – hear no evil, see no evil.

NCAA Enforcement explanation lives in infamy. Maurice wouldn't return their phone calls, so they couldn't investigate.

At Notre Dame, published reports say a woman embezzles from her company, takes Notre Dame football players on Las Vegas junkets, provides them with lavish gifts, even has a baby with one of them. The NCAA determines that she wasn't a Notre Dame booster, but that because she belonged to the South Bend Quarterback Club that club needed to be disbanded. Notre Dame skated.

Nothing was going to happen by effort of the NCAA in the Southern Cal transgressions until Yahoo stayed on the Reggie Bush mansion facts. Finally, the NCAA had no choice but to go in. Surprise! Multiple transgressions.

At Ohio State, the school newspaper was able to uncover more than the man who runs the athletics department did...or wanted to.

Remember back before the Sugar Bowl? Let the boys play, even though they admittedly had been guilty of receiving illegal benefits. They can be punished next fall if they promise to return to school. Why wouldn't they return with the sweet deals they had going?

So why has the NCAA historically been so kind to the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Notre Dame?

Many believe it goes back to efforts in the late 1970s and 1980s to form a super football governing body. The SEC, the old Southwest Conference, the Big Eight, the ACC, and key independents, including Penn State, were ready to move, but the Big 10, Pac-10 and Notre Dame wouldn't go along.

It wasn't necessarily altruistic support of the NCAA.

For Notre Dame, it was because the Irish – then the richest football school – didn't want to change the status quo.

For the Pac-10 and Big Ten, it was the Rose Bowl, long a closed shop and providing wealth to both conferences.

So here we stand today. Tressel gets his, and eventually so will Ohio State.

But is there any reason to expect anything but mediocrity and inconsistency from the NCAA?

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