Foundational Thoughts: Player Suspensions

Seeking balance

Since this is Festivus, it would be tempting to take time for the airing of grievances, particularly in light of the news that broke today. However, I’m not going to do that.  I’ve got frustrations, and you’ll get a chance to read them, but I wanted to set out some foundational items first.

We rarely have a “state of the union” post here at tBBC, mostly because we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune with different viewpoints and perspectives, each bringing these things to the cornucopia of coverage that you enjoy on a daily basis. So, it’s not normal for us to have a “this we believe” statement- heck, our posting guidelines took two weeks to come up with.

The news of today, though, is different. We’re getting a lot of traffic and readers who are following the football suspensions either looking for new information, our unique perspectives, or a chance to raise themselves up and feel better about their situations.

As such, here are the important things that anyone reading this little slice of the internet should be aware of in regards to our position on the matter:

  • The players in question chose to violate an NCAA regulation, and should be held accountable for their decisions.
  • The Ohio State University Athletic Department has responded swiftly; we are impressed with the way that this has been addressed in a timely manner that has been as transparent as appropriate.
  • Because this involves several, high profile, student athletes, it would be easy to conclude that this situation is indicative of a larger problem in the football program or the athletic department. We think that this conclusion is unfounded and unwise. Based on the University’s response thus far, it is more logical to believe that they take these issues seriously and seek to respond as is required.
  • We are disappointed that this has happened, and are hopeful that this will be a learning moment for everyone involved. Given what we know about the coaching staff, athletic department, and Ohio State community, we are confident that this is more than likely; but this requires full investment on behalf of the persons in question.

That may seem to be a bit rudimentary, but it gives us a starting point for the number of conversations that are sure to come over the next several months. We’ll be referring back to it often, I’m sure, and may even adapt it as new things develop.

This doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t a lot of things to discuss. The dialogue and insight we’ve had this year has done a lot to shape this site and opinions of many who read it.

For instance, I’m interested in some of the following:

  • Do the sanctions fit the violation? Is the NCAA being consistent given what we’ve seen over the past 18 months (Reggie Bush, A.J. Green, Cam Newton)?
  • Is the violation just? Should players have the ability to do whatever they want with the things that the University gives them, as long as it’s not excessive ($250,000 for a pair of shoelaces, for instance)?
  • Is this matter an issue of individual oversight, selfishness, or lack of education on the part of the university? Where does the responsibility fall?
  • What role does the current system play into this? The NCAA seems to be very interested in protecting their product, and invested in trying to make sure that finances don’t “corrupt” the game. Have they been successful?
  • Should players get stipends that reflect the money they bring into an institution? Or, are the educational opportunities enough?
  • Seriously? Your gold pants and championship rings? I know the market is somewhat flooded with these, but c’mon…

And I’m sure you’ll come up with more in the comments and over the coming days.

Finally, taking off my “blog administrator” hat- One area that I disagree with Eric is that I’m a bit frustrated with the response of the student athletes. From what I’ve gathered, it wasn’t until recently that those in question came forward, even though they were aware of their transgression much earlier in their careers.

I’ve long been someone who ascribes to Steven Carter’s definition of integrity, which has three components

  1. Discerning what is right and what is wrong;
  2. Acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and
  3. Saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.

These players missed an opportunity to show integrity in this situation by not coming forward once they were aware that their earlier behavior was out of line with university and NCAA expectations. It’s my understanding that they were given a chance to talk about things they may have done at the end of their compliance trainings this year, when the expectations were made more concrete (perhaps due to the A.J. Green situation). It’s one thing to make a bad decision; it’s something else altogether to not be honest about it.

In my career in higher education, I’ve had the chance to work with everything from Division 1 athletics to student life and development. In those roles, I’ve been involved in a lot of “difficult” conversations, including those that involved students on probation or those who were leaving the University. These always bring a bit of perspective for me- we’re talking to and about persons who are still growing into adulthood. In the situation at hand, it’s hard to remember that these famous student athletes are often not even of legal age to drink… not that it excuses lapses in judgment, but, like I said, it gives perspective.

In the conversations I’ve been a part of, it’s always been important to communicate the following: Making a mistake is not the end of the world; not learning from it is much more of an issue.

For these young adults, and for the institution, what happens next is what’s crucial.

About MaliBuckeye

Preaching the Gospel of St. Woody on the Left Coast. International scalawag, appropriately whelmed. #TeamPie