The headline says it all. Why didn't Ohio State President Gee fire Jim Tressel? It's obvious to anybody with an ethical bone in their body that Jim Tressel should have been fired for his actions.
Not only did he violate his contract that required immediate notification when the athletes violate NCAA rules. He did so knowingly.
This is an occasion requiring the NCAA infractions committee to become that 900-pound gorilla that has been missing from college football. There is no excuse for the actions of Coach Tressel. And President Gee has no excuse, either, to keep Jim Tressel as part of Ohio State football.
The problems at OSU are very similar to those experienced by the Southern Methodist University scandal in 1987. Though not as egregious as SMU's pay-for-play, this is in the same ballpark.
A similar situation occurred in 2000 when the Wisconsin Badgers had 26 players suspended immediately for taking unadvertised discounts on athletic shoes. The university took the correct action in that case. Why hasn't Ohio State?
Jim Tressel knew that five of his top players were in violation and had received monetary compensation. These are undisputed facts—and the players should have been suspended immediately by the university.
Tressel put winning and money ahead of what should have been done. He knew that the 2010 season would likely be mediocre—at best—without his top players, and that they would not be in a BCS bowl.
What will OSU do to correct this?
Probably nothing—as President Gee appears to be taking the stance that this will pass like water under the bridge.
This points to a bigger issue in college football. It points to a lack of ethics from the top down at various universities. The "win at all costs" mentality, and the thought that no one is to be held responsible for their actions, is becoming a normal way of conducting business.
The issues surrounding ethics have been around for years, but were more visible in 2010 than ever before. The Cam Newton controversy and Tattoo-Gate were two of its biggest headlines.
We all know that college football is a big-money business. The money generated by the various major programs in the BCS is staggering. Naturally, the temptation to circumvent rules—designed to protect the game we know and love—is enormous.
Many coaches have been fired for much less. Sometimes these are issues stemming from on-the-field; other times, they're let go for actions that were personal and private. But when a coach with the reputation of Jim Tressel fails at a basic ethical level of right and wrong—what does that say about the health of the system?
Is the system that's broken?
And what will the NCAA do now? Come down hard, as they rightfully should? Will they vacate any (or all) of OSU's victories in 2010? Or will they simply nod their bobble-heads and agree that the actions by the university are commensurate with the violations committed?
Of course, it would appear that in some people's minds it doesn't matter; that it's all right to make excuses and shirk responsibility, so long as you win. To them, right and wrong aren't values important enough to instill in our youth.
That appears to be the case with Jim Tressel and Ohio State: a "just win, baby" mentality, and worry about the fallout later. Yep, all I can say is, "Go, Buckeyes."
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