Did you say, 'violations?'
By Andrew Alexander
The past three college football seasons we have seen vast numbers of suspensions issued, coaches forced out, and fans standing dumbfounded with mouths wide open in awe after rulings were handed down by NCAA officials for rule violations.
Yes, some are warranted. Recruiting players illegally being one of them. But where I seem to get lost in translation is when players are given multiple game or full season suspensions for actions that do not give their school an advantage on the playing field.
Case in point, former Oklahoma State star wide-out Dez Bryant. Bryant was suspended for the last nine games of the 2009-2010 season for lying to the NCAA about visiting with Hall of Fame Cornerback Deion Sanders.
Bryant’s only infraction during the whole situation was lying to the NCAA about the visit. The visit was in no way against the rules.
Bryant gained nothing financially, or physically to give him an advantage over opponents on the field, but OSU still paid the price eventually losing to Oklahoma and Texas which kept them from playing in their conference championship game.
Then, former University of Georgia standout wide receiver A.J. Green was suspended for the first four games of last season for allegedly selling his 2009 Independence Bowl game jersey for $1,000 to former University of North Carolina player Chris Hawkins, who the NCAA labeled an “agent.”
Green simply sold his personal possession to an interested buyer, bringing no unfair advantage to the university on or off the field, but UGA began the season 1-3 with it’s only victory during Green’s suspension coming against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Finally, Ohio State University is left in shambles after six players admittedly bartered team memorabilia for tattoos and, at times, cash.
On top of five game suspensions for all the players involved, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel was asked by the university to resign for lying to the NCAA, claiming he had no knowledge of players receiving improper benefits.
Tressel was most certainly guilty of lying to the NCAA investigators, but why would an esteemed coach make such a terrible blunder? The only rational reason one can gather, was because he wanted to protect his team, as a whole, from a rule that is quite frankly unjust.
Since when is it illegal in America to sell your own belongings, or in this case, trade them? How does a player getting cash for a jersey he will never wear again justify a five-game suspension from the NCAA?
To me, the punishment does not fit the crime. Especially when the punishment is handed down from the NCAA, an association that makes hundreds of millions of dollars off of these kids each year.
Illegally recruiting players is wrong. Punching other players in the face after a game is wrong. Injecting one’s self with steroids is wrong. All of these things, justifiably, are punishable and worthy of the term “violation.”
But when considering the Ohio State, Green, and Bryant cases I cannot help but ask my self; who is really being violated?
(The views expressed in this column are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Independent Appeal or its owner.)