E. Gordon Gee: Ohio State is ‘poster child for compliance’

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Within a year, nine different football players were suspended for at least a game for receiving impermissible benefits at Ohio State.

Say what you will about the severity of the violations — that’s a different discussion entirely — but the NCAA’s rulebook is what it is. When you boil it down to its simplest form, OSU athletes broke rules (two did it on more than one occasion) and now have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

These are failures of individuals, not a systemic failure of compliance,” athletic director Gene Smith said following the one-game suspension of running back Boom Herron, receiver DeVier Posey and lineman Marcus Hall for accepting wages greater than hours worked at a summer job ”It’s not 30 (players).”

It doesn’t have to be. The job of Ohio State’s compliance department, as it is with all compliance departments, is to educate and monitor athletes, staff and situations to the best of its ability. The objective is to minimize the risk of a violation; if one occurs, compliance works to rectify it as soon as possible.

So, yes, the fact that Ohio State has had multiple sets of violations over the past year that included both of the aforementioned parties (plus an incident with a booster) shows there has been a systematic failure of compliance with the football program. Inexcusably, Smith and Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee don’t see it that way.

We are the poster child for compliance, and whenever we discover a possible infraction, we resolve and report it to the NCAA, no matter how minor the violation,” Gee said. “That’s what we have done here.”

From what we know about the NCAA’s approval of Ohio State’s self-inflicted sanctions, it would appear former coach Jim Tressel was the only Ohio State employee who knew of impermissible benefits received by his players last year. If compliance doesn’t know of a violation, then they can’t do anything about it. So when Gee says Ohio State’s compliance department does its job when it discovers an infraction, there aren’t many reasons to believe that isn’t true.

But what baffles me to near speechlessness  is the arrogance, the “it’s them, not us” tone when Smith speaks of the faults of individuals, or when Gee boasts his school’s compliance department as a model by which others should follow.

If you’ve ever seen Eddie Murphy‘s stand-up “Raw”, then you know the joke. The wife catches the cheating husband walking out of his mistress’ house, and upon confronting him, the husband says calmly, “wasn’t me.”

“But I saw you coming out…”

“Wasn’t me.”

Except this isn’t a joke. This is a real problem and Ohio State’s brass needs to address it as such. This is not to pin Ohio State’s NCAA woes solely on the institution. In fact, and this is merely my opinion, violations like the ones at Ohio State almost certainly occur at every school at every level of college athletics. It takes a booster to come up with the cash and an athlete controls his or her own ability to take it, or refuse it; compliance can only explain what someone can and cannot do.

Whatever Ohio State is explaining, though, clearly isn’t breaching the surface. The athletes have disobeyed, a coach has disobeyed and a booster has disobeyed. To say Ohio State’s compliance department didn’t do its job isn’t truly accurate, but it has failed across the board, and both Smith and Gee need relay the message as such.

If OSU’s compliance is as great as Gee says it is then I pity every other compliance department in college athletics because it sure as hell isn’t all puppies and rainbows right now.

Still, Gee would have us believe that he is Chip Diller of “Animal House”, and that all is well.

“I think we are blessed to have an extraordinarily talented athletic director who has proven his mettle through an extraordinarily tough time,” Gee said.

If he thinks we’re that dumb, then there truly is a joke in all of this.

And it’s on him.

(Tip of the cap: Columbus Dispatch) 

John Swofford releases statement on North Carolina repeal of HB2

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It’s pretty much impossible to keep politics out of the sports page today. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was forced to release a statement on Tuesday urging Arkansas state legislators to exempt Razorbacks sporting venues from a bill that would greatly expand areas allowing concealed-carry handguns, and now ACC commissioner John Swofford has been forced to wade back into political waters.

North Carolina’s state legislature brokered a deal Thursday with new governor Roy Cooper to repeal House Bill 2, the controversial law requiring persons within Tar Heel state borders to use public bathrooms matching their gender at birth. The “bathroom bill” cost the state a reported $3.76 billion in revenue, and some of that lost revenue related directly to college football.

Following the NCAA’s lead of revoking the state’s championship event hosting privileges due to HB2, the ACC moved its football championship game from Charlotte to Orlando (the men’s basketball tournament was previously booked for Brooklyn), a move that cost the conference itself money as well.

Thursday’s repeal of HB2 is more complicated than simply yanking the bathroom bill (this is where I’ll direct you to a much more appropriate place to digest the political news of the hour than a college football blog) and, as such, Swofford’s statement is appropriately nuanced.

The ACC is still undecided where this December’s title game will be played, and Swofford will kick that decision upstairs to the league’s presidents.

Oklahoma OL Christian Daimler to pursue graduate transfer

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Oklahoma offensive tackle Christian Daimler will pursue a transfer, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Thursday.

As a fifth-year senior, Daimler qualifies as a graduate transfer and will be eligible immediately. “I could not be more excited about what my future holds,” Daimler wrote. “Wherever I end up I know that I will always be a Sooner and for that am I so proud. This University [sic] will forever remain close to my heart. Boomer Sooner.”

If that name does not immediately ring a bell, you are forgiven. Daimler appeared in three games as a Sooner, all over last season.

Hailing from Houston, Daimler, who stands 6-foot-7 and is listed at 321 pounds, was a 3-star recruit when he signed with Oklahoma over Texas A&M, Arizona State and Colorado, among others.

Penn State trustee says he’s ‘running out of patience’ with ‘so-called victims’ of Jerry Sandusky

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With Baylor seemingly running away with the title of most embarrassing university in collegiate athletics, a Penn State trustee has said “hold my beer.”

Friday, former Penn State president Graham Spanier was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of children in a trial related to his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.  In an email to the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, PSU trustee Albert Lord had sharp words for the victims of Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a sentence of at least 30 years.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” the trustee wrote in a portion of the email. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Spanier was found not guilty on two other charges, a second count of child endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy.

In a statement, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, Ira Lubert, attempted to distance the body from Lord’s comments.

“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university.”

Sun Belt commish issues statement on Arkansas gun law

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A highly-charged state law continues to garner the attention of the college football world.

Last week, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans to attend an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

The amendment still must pass through the House of Representatives, leading SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, with the University of Arkansas as a member of his conference, to release a statement Tuesday that was no doubt meant to apply pressure ahead of the vote.  Thursday, the Sun Belt’s commissioner, Karl Benson, followed suit out of concern for his membership, including Arkansas State in football.

During the last week I have followed closely the news articles regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249, and now also a potential amendment to what is now Act 562. Given that both the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas State University are members of the Sun Belt Conference — and as my colleague Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference has stated — I too support the Arkansas State Senate’s exemption in Senate Bill 724 that would prevent firearms from being allowed inside publicly funded stadiums and arenas in the State of Arkansas.

It’s unclear when the House will vote on the amendment.  Regardless of which version of thew law is finally agreed upon, it will go into effect Sept. 1.

Arkansas opens its 2017 season Sept. 2 against Florida A&M in Fayetteville.  Arkansas State’s home opener is a week later against the Miami (Fla.).