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March 2, 2015 — A symptom, hopefully

A story written today in the Ohio State University student newspaper The Lantern reports that the university’s athletic department self-reported 47 rules violations during the 2014 calendar year.

But one of the violations jumped off the page.

A member of the field hockey team took part in 17 games during the 2013-14 school year even though she was ineligible. The school paid $5,000 in fines and declared the student-athlete ineligible for field hockey going forward.

This is the same university whose football program has received a number of sanctions in its handling of NCAA violations the last decade and a half, even as it won national championships with people of dubious character in its lineup.

Now, before assessing blame or accountability here, let’s make it clear that many schools have compliance officers and academic advisors for their student-athletes, and this level of authority is supposed to take the pressure off the coaching staff of the school’s sports teams to allow them to concentrate on coaching.

I sincerely believe that, given the history of the OSU sports program over the last few years, that someone severely dropped the ball when it comes to the eligibility status of the field hockey student-athlete cited in The Lantern. I’ve known schools which have dropped players because of academics midway through the academic year, such is the scrutiny of the student-athlete in most colleges and universities these days. How can a university not know that an ineligible player is on its roster until after the season has ended?

I don’t believe the fault lies in the coaching staff; I’ve known Anne Wilkinson for years and she has demonstrated commitment to the integrity of the sport not only in Ohio, but nationwide.

Instead, I think the fault lies somewhere in the athletic administration — one which has shown a laissez-faire attitude towards the rules and has, frankly, ruined the lives of Maurice Clarett, Terrell Pryor, and others.

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