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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ohio State May Face Further NCAA Charges

Today, in a report from ESPN, the broadcasting network posted that Ohio State will be receiving another set of allegations against Ohio State's football program in the coming weeks. This comes as a surprise since just a few days ago the NCAA stated that Ohio State would avoid the most serious rule infractions.

Some of the new information that has surfaced includes things such as thousands of dollars worth of merchandise being sold by players, free games of golf, and special auto deals specifically designed for players.

The NCAA's current allegations against Ohio State are primarily linked to Jim Tressel and the previous coaching staff. If the new allegations contain things such as the infamous "failure to monitor" allegation, Ohio State could face much stiff penalties. This is because the "failure to monitor" allegation implies that the entire athletic department and school is to blame for the rule violation.

Typically, if a school is found guilty of the "failure to monitor" charge, there are stiff penalties for the program and entire athletic department. For example, USC received this rule infraction recently and was forced to accept scholarship reductions, a postseason ban, and the vacation of a NCAA championship. However, USC's violations were linked to the entire athletic department. If new allegations against Ohio State continue to focus solely on Tressel and the coaching staff, Ohio State may get off much lighter on its penalties.

This can be seen in the NCAA investigation regarding Tennessee. Instead of placing blame on the university, the NCAA opted to blame Lane Kiffin (head coach at the time) and the coaching staff for recruiting violations. Though Tennessee still had to incure some punishments and the tarnishment of its reputation, the penalties would likely have been much worse if the NCAA had accused the university itself of a "failure to monitor."

If ESPN's reports are accurate and the NCAA is primed to add new allegations to Ohio State including a "failure to monitor" charge, there could be serious penalties including scholarship cuts and bowl bans. If these types of penalties surface, the Ohio State football program will take a major step back. Recruiting will take a significant hit (there's already much speculation that a bowl ban will spur several high profile recruits from Ohio State to Michigan), Ohio State will have fewer scholarship players on the field, and be incapable playing in nationally viewed bowl games.

There has been some speculation that this sudden "change of heart" by the NCAA was driven by Terrelle Pryor's testimony, but I'm hesitant to believe these rumors. Pryor may be in tough waters to be eligible for the NFL Supplemental Draft, but assuming he's trying to cough up information that will directly harm his college team may be a little too speculative. Over time we have clearly seen that Pryor has some questionable standards, but as of now, these rumors are, well, just rumors.

What we do know is that the NCAA investigation is continuing and seems very likely to be headed for new allegations against Ohio State. Whether the NCAA will postpone Ohio State's appearance before the Committee On Infractions is also still uncertain, but I think it's safe to assume that whatever allegations will reach fruition by the end of the 2011 season.