Jim Tressel and the NCAA: Rules Are Made to Be Broken

Deborah HortonContributor IMarch 9, 2011

Jim Tressel
Jim TresselMatthew Stockman/Getty Images

Last year, five Ohio State football players were suspended, not for the remainder of the college football season or the Sugar Bowl, but for five games in the upcoming season for selling championship memorabilia. This penalty was handed down by the NCAA in such a way as to not interfere with all the money to be made at the Sugar Bowl game.  It teaches little about rules adherence.

So, it is no surprise that Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel's admitting that he knew about these rules infractions as much as eight months ago and his "punishment" is no surprise whatsoever.  

Tressel has been suspended for the first two home games next season and fined $250,000.  The comments from Buckeye nation run the gamut from "if he's protecting his guys, then I think that's great" to "if he knew what happened, then he deserves it."  

I am a rules traditionalist.  Meaning, the rules are there and everybody should follow them and if they don't, everybody should be punished accordingly.  If they are not going to be adhered to and the punishment is just going to be laughable, get rid of the rules.  Turn college sports into a kind of "D league" situation, a rookie league situation.  Let agents in.  Let money in (freely).  Just get rid of the rules, period.

If you are going to have schools and teams violating the rules on a consistent basis and the punishment for such violations teaching nothing or not reforming behavior, then why have them?  Just turn college sports into a semi-pro type of situation or a rookie type of situation.  That way you can start grooming egomaniacal, narcissistic, entitled pro athletes at an even faster clip.  

Of course getting rid of the rules and removing amateur status will never happen.  The NCAA and the colleges want all that money that rolls in from TV, boosters, alumni and companies.  They are not about to give that up, hence the non-suspension for the Sugar Bowl game.  They will keep the rules in place and keep pretending to uphold them and all the while it just becomes more of a joke.

Please do not come in here and try to tell me that your college doesn't break the rules.  I would lay money that almost every single one of them does in some way or another.  It's just a fact.  People look the other way.  Penalties are handed down arbitrarily and nobody learns anything.  They just go on, one hand washing the other, teaching everything but good character.  As long as the money's flowing, things like character, virtue and an education are just not concerns.

Tressel will miss the first two games of the season, cupcake games that Ohio State can win with a blindfold on.  He has to pay a monetary fine.  And life at Ohio State will go on as it has in the past and the rules will stay in place for all to bypass.  Tressel espouses character, integrity and supports a website views of a site called SportsLeader.org, which espouses virtue.  Yet it took him months to find any of his own.

The NCAA investigation is ongoing, but if it is like anything in the past, very little of significance will come of it and even if it does, it will be years and will have little meaning when it comes down.  The NCAA, the colleges, the coaches and the players need to stop the rules all together.  Quit pretending at amateur status and make college sports what they already are—a semi-pro stepping stone.  To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.