Post Season Ban?

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Last updated: 07/11/2011 1:51 AM
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Football
Is a Postseason Ban on the Horizon for Buckeye Football?
By Tony Gerdeman

Now that Ohio State has responded to the NCAA and announced their self-imposed sanctions, the questions turn to whether or not the NCAA will choose to add on to the University's initial punishments.

Ohio State placed themselves on two years probation, vacated the entire 2010 season, suspended six players, and sought (and received) the resignation of head coach Jim Tressel.

But will the NCAA be satisfied?

These types of things have a way of involving some give and take, and if Ohio State gives it, the NCAA will surely take it, which is why Ohio State didn't give as much as they know the NCAA may want.

It would be appropriate to expect another year or so of probation added on to the two years that were self-imposed, but that's only an added punishment if Ohio State finds itself in further trouble during these next few years.

The remaining concern for Ohio State is whether or not the NCAA will impose a postseason ban and/or take some scholarships away from the Buckeyes.

Looking back through the last 20 years of NCAA sanctions involving the violation of Bylaw 10.1, which is Unethical Conduct (and also happens to be the most serious charge in Ohio State's Notice of Allegations), 26 football programs have been found guilty of violating the Unethical Conduct bylaw.

Of those 26 programs, 20 faced scholarship reductions ranging from twelve per year to one per year. Of the six who faced no reductions, two had no charges of Failure to Monitor or Lack of Institutional Control, which is exactly Ohio State's situation if there are no additions to the NCAA's findings.

Of the 20 who were sanctioned with scholarship reductions, six faced those sanctions without ever being charged with Failure to Monitor or Lack of Institutional Control.

Will Ohio State face scholarship losses? The numbers say there's a slight chance Ohio State could avoid such sanctions, but it appears the University left the NCAA with some elbow room to maneuver around if they so choose, and allowing the NCAA to inflict their own scholarship reductions would keep them from looking like pushovers in the eyes of the watchers, not that the NCAA is concerned with such things.

Consider scholarships the sacrificial lambs in this ordeal, because the one thing nobody involved with the University wants to give up is the postseason.

It's bad enough that Ohio State stripped their own conference championship from last season - their sixth in a row, but they certainly don't want to be uninvolved in a bowl game this year, or worse yet, the Big Ten's first ever conference championship game.

Of the 26 cases over the last 20 years to involve the violation of the 10.1 bylaw, nine involved postseason bans. Of those nine, only ONE was given a postseason ban without also being charged with Failure to Monitor or Lack of Institutional Control. That was Mississippi State in 2004.

Like Mississippi State, Ohio State has not yet been charged with Failure to Monitor or Lack of Institutional Control, but what Mississippi State was charged with was repeat violator status, which Ohio State is trying very hard to avoid.

So to reiterate, of the 26 cases involving Bylaw 10.1, nine came with a postseason ban.  Of those nine, only one was without charges of Lack of Institutional Control or Failure to Monitor, and the only apparent reason they were given a postseason ban was because they were a repeat violator, which allowed the NCAA to increase sanctions.

What this all appears to mean is that if Ohio State can avoid being treated as a repeat offender, there is no NCAA precedent for handing down a postseason ban.

In its response to the NCAA, Ohio State addressed the repeat violator status, claiming that this should not require being labeled a repeat violator because the previous violations from 2006 involved the basketball team's recruitment of two European athletes, and the current case involves the football team only. They also mention that the actual previous violations took place as far back as 1998.

The likelihood of the NCAA agreeing with Ohio State is beyond human speculation, but in reviewing all 26 of these cases, the NCAA certainly takes the institutions' responses into account when levying final judgment. They also take into account the length of time since the actual violations occurred, regardless of when they were found out.

Ohio State and the NCAA are still scheduled to meet on August 12, even though there isn't much left to discuss because Ohio State has disputed very little, if any, of the NCAA's charges.

All that's left is for the NCAA to weigh in, and when they do you can expect harsher penalties than currently exist, but probably not as harsh as you have been told.

Assuming they haven't found anything else.

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