Problem in college athletics isn’t kids, it’s the guys in suits

How does West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck (left) escape criticism for promoting Dana Holgorsen, who recently was intoxicated and thrown out of a casino? (AP photo)

West Virginia AD Oliver Luck promoted Dana Holgorsen (rear), who recently was intoxicated and thrown out of a casino.

Given that there is a U.S. congressman tweeting women pornographic pictures of his junior senator — and to somebody out of his district, no less — maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

But the worst of infectious diseases currently destroying college athletics isn’t the recruit who’s trying to play one school off the other for a signing bonus. Or the star player who’s looking for a car deal or a condo. Or the hungry but cross-eyed coach who will lie and drop-kick his values for a BCS bowl game or NCAA tournament berth. Or the booster in the shadows who will do everything to help all aforementioned parties.

Grown, secure men who seemingly shouldn’t have anything to worry about are the biggest thing destroying college athletics.

Parents feel compelled to set an example for their children. So apparently do college administrators and coaches — they’re just setting the wrong ones.

West Virginia coach Bill Stewart wasn’t a terribly popular coach but he was coming off a co-Big East championship and was nearing the end of his career. He was forced to resign last week because word leaked that he – and possibly his wife –reportedly was trying to submarine the team’s coach in waiting, Dana Holgorsen, by spreading drinking rumors about him.

Oliver Luck, West Virginia’s athletic director, a well-educated man with a law degree, responded to this in an unusual way. He forced Stewart out the door (good) but he promoted Holgorsen one year ahead of schedule (bad). He did this even though last month an intoxicated Holgorsen had to be dragged out of a casino by police escort from a West Virginia casino (and you wonder: how drunk and obnoxious does one have to be to get thrown out of a West Virginia casino?). There also are strong allegations of other drinking issues.

Luck’s reasoning must have been that Holgorsen runs a good offense. Somehow, he has escaped criticism, I guess because he wears nice suits.

The fired Bruce Pearl, whose former basketball program is facing 10 major violations, wore his orange tie and suspenders to the NCAA hearing. Image is everything. (AP photo)

In Columbus, outgoing Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is getting slammed for actions that almost certainly will lead to NCAA probation. But what about the men who enabled the system, the ones who stalled, deflected and lied when initially confronted with the issues: The school president (Gordon Gee), the athletic director (Gene Smith) and the head coach (Jim Tressel) – all of whom should have felt secure enough to do the right thing?

Tennessee, which annually has one of the largest athletic budgets in the nation, is facing 12 major NCAA violations in basketball and football. It fired athletic director Mike Hamilton but gave him $1.33 million as a separation gift, I guess because potentially having football and basketball programs slammed with probation simultaneously doesn’t disqualify upper management from such things in Knoxville.

Gene Smith: "Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here."

The new liars club: Bruce Pearl (above), Gordon Gee, Jim Tressel, Gene Smith.

Tennessee’s hearing with the NCAA’s committee on infractions lasted 11 hours Saturday. So many current and former coaches and administrators attended that the meeting had to be moved to a larger hotel meeting room, adjacent to one with a wedding reception.

Welcome to the scary remake of Wedding Crashers, staring Bruce Pearl and Lane Kiffin.

Pearl, who already has been fired and is charged with unethical conduct, showed up with an orange tie and orange suspenders. Even at this point, he apparently finds image more important than being genuine and honest.

These are the men who are supposed to lead. And we’re blaming the kids?

Last December, when Ohio State was still in firm denial mode when the players’ memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal broke, Smith said, “There are no other NCAA violations around this case. We’re very fortunate we do not have a systemic problem in our program. This is isolated to these young men, isolated to this particular incident.”

Oops.

Pryor reportedly earned $20,000 to $40,000 selling autographed items. He seemingly changed cars every time one needed a wash. Does he deserve criticism? Absolutely. But we need to look higher on college athletics food chain for the real problem. Few are fostering an atmosphere of compliance.

Before we dump on the 21-year-olds, look at the men in the suits.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

134 comments Add your comment

Innocent Bystander

June 12th, 2011
11:45 am

They should do a Fulmer Cup for the guys in the suits. Probably wouldn’t compete with the real Fulmer Cup.

VOLinATL

June 12th, 2011
11:54 am

Delbert D.

June 12th, 2011
11:59 am

I don’t see guys like Pryor as victims, rather as willing accomplices.

theriddler

June 12th, 2011
12:00 pm

Looks and smells like our politcal system.

jeff jeff jeff you ignorant slut

June 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

while i agree with most everything you said… you failed to mention the fact that we even have a fulmer cup. you know the one that is being won by your favorite school to the north of atlanta every year?

gotta think that having a coach and university continue to allow its student athletes ’sic’ to reign free and break real laws as opposed to those ‘make believe’ rules that the ncaa dictates is far more of a problem.

yet once again you fail to even mention this issue.

have you and your boy friend mark been tweeting pics of one another again?

and speakin of tweets…. why mention that situation when there were laws broken and bribes made by politicians who cheated on their family, broke up another family and bought hookers and even kept an illicit love child from his wife for 10 year? once again you show that you have an agenda that is a bit shall we say lop sided!

sorry schultz but if your going to bring up examples how about bringing up the most appropriate ones not ones that suit your agenda!

how about we

June 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

pay the kids 300 a game out of the coaches pocket. great idea from the ol ball sack

kick those recruiting sites to the curb along with signing press conferences and over signing. lets put the responsibility back to where it belongs. the university should be doing a better job of recruiting kids of character and kids who can actually spell. as it stands now schools like alamba and auburn can sign 40 players and pick an choose the ones who best meet their needs. from my standpoint that is not being responsible.

pass laws that make it illegal to represent a sa. put some bite in these laws. allow the university to sue these individuals for big bucks.

may be time that schools recruit players that will lead vs being ring leaders! my guess is that pryor was a ring leader not a leader.

country boy

June 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

Nice article Jeffy boy. First paragraph is too funny. My comment is a bit off subject but as a Durham, NC native a a longtime Duke basketball fan I have found it very shortsighted by so many fans to demonize ( pardon a bad pun ) Duke’s men’s basketball program and particularly Coach K. If fans would stop and take a deep breath and objectively analyze the program, coach and past/present players they would see a program that is hugely successful with integrity even among shady adversaries ( UNCONN, KY). Now let the beating begin on the poor ‘ol county boy.

SSIgator

June 12th, 2011
12:11 pm

. . . and da Preacha Man eludes Jeff’s article once again.

supersize that order, mutt

June 12th, 2011
12:14 pm

next on the NCAA hit list will be the Gators. You heard it here first.

The Listener

June 12th, 2011
12:21 pm

Paying the players will never be a realistic solution, and the NCAA knows it. Because it doesn’t matter that the football and men’s basketball programs (in 95+ % of schools) contribute nearly all of the athletic dept. revenue; if you pay a football player $300, then the girl who sits at the end of the boat and calls the cadence for the women’s rowing team also has to get $300, or a lawsuit making that so will occur. So since you can’t pay every athlete, you can’t pay any.

Dawg Tired

June 12th, 2011
12:24 pm

College football is all about money, period. It tries to cloak itself in tradition, school spirit, state pride, “It all about the kids!” BS.

At least the NFL is honest about what it is all about.

Bob

June 12th, 2011
12:29 pm

Good article Jeff, and I like your satire…”Andrew Luck, a well-educated man with a law degree”. Too funny, and too bad none of those clowns have any morals.

JAWJeRDAWG

June 12th, 2011
12:32 pm

The ’suits’ and some boosters can certainly be enablers to infractions, Jeff.

But the school’s athletes also know the NCAA rules and regulations they must follow in their academic and athletic persuits, and when found to be in non-compliance, must accept responsibility and punishment.

All too often, the college, the program, the fans, and the athletes suffer from this greed of a few. Good that those programs, like UGA are TRYING to do and play the games the right way. .. Go Dawgs!

Frank Lane

June 12th, 2011
12:33 pm

Bad kids and bad adults are both to blame. Terrell Pryor is not guiltless and neither was A
J Green. His team knew he was in it for himself. Hopefully we got rid of the “me” squad.

Bull Meacham

June 12th, 2011
12:33 pm

Right on! Big college football fan my whole life. At 48 now, I’m done with it. Too corrupt. No standards. USC on probation, AJ suspended for selling his own jersey, yet no sanction on Cam Newton/ AU. Glad to see OSU and Tenn finally at least getting at least investigated.
No concerns for fans either. Going to a game in Athens now is more difficult than a full day at the DOT, County Tax office, etc. Admin and local politicians have succeeded in making gameday more of a hassle than its worth. I now stay home, save my money.

1eyedJack

June 12th, 2011
12:40 pm

“junior senator”

Good ‘un Jeff. If you don’t mind I’d like to use that one myself.

By the way Jeff, what was Lane Kiffin wearing? Or better yet, what was Layla wearing?

Hillbilly D

June 12th, 2011
12:45 pm

Let the NFL finance its own minor league system.

Ted M

June 12th, 2011
12:46 pm

Ted M

June 12th, 2011
12:52 pm

No offense Jeff but it was about time you gotta new post the last one was lame.

Bryce S

June 12th, 2011
12:57 pm

Pretty good article, but this comment was unnecessary and I would suggest that an apology to the fine people of the State of WV is in order.

“(and you wonder: wow (sic) drunk and obnoxious does one have to be to get thrown out of a West Virginia casino?)”

Sir Barks A Lot

June 12th, 2011
1:01 pm

1. Start with the NCAA – they allowed Ohio State’s players to play in the Sugar Bowl for the ratings and dollars – and allow a five game suspension the following year????
I guess integrity only applies when mid-majors are invovled.

Heck – UGA and Georiga should have agreed to let AJ Green be suspended for 4 games – in 2012 or be allowed to pick out which 4 games not to plauy in 2011. If he wnet pro – then that is on AJ – not UGA.

2. DO NOT feel sorry for the players – all this talk about needed to be paid as they are the ones bringing in all the money. I am a sport of college football – and my school – the players come and go – and I root for them because they play for my school.
– they get a full ride – food,housing, tuition, training – coaching – opporunity for a degree, and a lucky few get a chance to hone their skills for a lucrative NFL contracta. Cry me a river.
– College football was around before they were born – and will be there far after they are no longer breathing.
- These spoiled entitled brats want to exploit the system for their gain – just like the suits. They no longer see playing college football as an opportunity and a scholarship as a priveldge.

Maurice Clarrett stated – it’s on the players – these kids are seeking the cars, condo’s, money – taking advantage of their popularity.

JDawg1785

June 12th, 2011
1:02 pm

Excellent post, Jeff! I miss the days when fans didn’t need a law degree to keep up with the news in college sports.

Buckeye

June 12th, 2011
1:04 pm

Another column for Schultzie and another column with Ohio State front and center.

Go Bucks!

Hit A Single

June 12th, 2011
1:05 pm

Everybody can take blame. We build these kids up and kiss their tails to get them to come to our schools. The media, parents, sorry parents that don’t even give their kids the time of day unless they think they can get something out of it, sorry ass coaches, boosters and fans are all to blame. But you know what it goes back to the student athlete that breaks the rules. Alot of kids come from bad backgrounds and are very successful doing it the right way.

Season Over

June 12th, 2011
1:11 pm

Boise State 49, UGA 13.

Season Over

Charles

June 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

1. Terrelle Pryor’s cars were legitimately purchased by his mom, the loaners were used while his cars were being repaired and this was documented.

2. At this point 8 out of 9 of the current players supposedly accused of getting tatoos in exchange for memorabilia by Sports Illustrated NOT only had all their respective memorabilia, but 2 of the individuals NEVER HAD A TATOO and DO NOT have a tatoo on their body.

3. At this point both Terrelle Pryor’s attorney and the Mr Talbott, accused of paying for memorabilia both passionately claiming their is no trail of money or checks or payment or evidence of it of paying Terelle Pryor for anything.

4. And both the NCAA and Youngstown State’s former president stated that Jim Tressel had no culpabililty with Ray Issaac, the QB getting paid by the YSU booster and in fact… Ray Isaac himself has been on record numerous times saying that Jim Tressel had nothing to do with the affair.

5. How about Maurice Clarett recently & factually declaring his actions while at OSU his actions and not related at all the Jim Tressel.

You, like your many of your colleagues in the media, love to report the negative and lots of allegations & innuendo but never back those up with the truth or that facts when they present themselves.

You love to run headlines about the guy accused of RAPE…but when the accused is found to be at the park feeding the pigeons when the RAPE supposedly occurred you WILL NOT REPORT that.

Jim Tressel had impacted more young lives in a positive fashion and done more in the service of his community, state and fellow man than you will in 20 lifetimes…(and you can’t stand the thought of it)

How about a report on that Jeff?

regards,

Charles N Carter
Atlanta GA

Fisher

June 12th, 2011
1:21 pm

Western Carolina 82, TECH 6 (missed the extra point kick)

Tim

June 12th, 2011
1:36 pm

Good column… and what about Michael Adams and UGA paying Daomn Evans more than $237,000 for all the mess he got in… driving drunk, having a woman he wasn’t married to in a vehicle with him and her panties in his lap and trying to bribe a law enforcement officer. Ridiculous!! He should not have been paid one penny!!! What about writing a column about the ludicrous salaries major college coach’s make and the even-more ludicrous pay they receive when they get fired (Ex: Fulmer, $7 million fat Tennessee)?

Charles

June 12th, 2011
1:55 pm

Oh yeah… Jeff I forgot to mention (or did you forget to report?) Ohio State lead the NCAA Top 25 football programs in academic progress rate and was #1 in GPA (the highest in school history) among Big Ten football programs… They were #5 in academic progress rate among ALL NCAA institutions… among those being Northwestern, Penn and better than schools like Stanford…

It would seem it would be real difficult to encourage corrupt behavior in the athletic dept and by the head coach, go 12-1 two years in a row, win 2 BCS bowl games and achieve academically like Ohio State does…

Any brilliant investigation into that Jeff ?

How about a report on teams & schools that WIN BIG and ALSO GRADUATE players ???

That would require work, journalistic saavy & integrity and heaven forbid some positive reporting.

Probably not… huh ?

NoGaGator

June 12th, 2011
1:58 pm

Charles -

If Terelle is clean, why is he now refusing to talk to the NCAA?

re: Isaac – Tressel introduced him to Monus when Isaac said he was having problems. Then Tressel doesn’t know anything from that point. ANSWER -He didn’t want to know.

Tressel introduced Smith to the booster who then gave Troy Smith money. Then again, Tressel doesn’t know anything from that point. ANSWER -He didn’t want to know.

OSU basketball player Titus saying people really had to be looking the other way about all the cars. He said all you had to do was look in the players parking lot and it was pretty obvious.

But most important, Charles, how can some outside reporters for SI spend a week or two in Columbus and dig up so much dirt when pOSU has a compliance dep’t of 6 people that should be on top of transgressions? How can it be?

Also, if the article was inaccurate, I’m sure we’d be seeing trailers on ESPN of lawsuits being filed out of Columbus. Instead, not a peep.

Bo in North Carolina

June 12th, 2011
2:04 pm

Charles & Sir Barks Maurice Clarett of course has outstanding credentials and high morals and can comment of the OSU situation.
Jeff good column.

jim

June 12th, 2011
2:14 pm

Charles, If Tressel truly is blameless in all of this, then he may be the most ignorant man on the planet. Numerous reports indicate that OSU players getting perks was common knowledge throughout Columbus.

I don’t doubt he is a good guy & has helped hundreds of kids, but I would say it is possible to be that person and still turn a blind eye to what his kids were doing.

George (do you miss me now) Bush

June 12th, 2011
2:16 pm

Great article, Jeff. Thanks.

Beast from the East

June 12th, 2011
2:23 pm

Charles,
Your passion is admirable, but your naivity is not. Tressel is about as clean as I am and I’ve just come from from working in the yard for 4 hours. FILTHY!

Dawg Whisperer

June 12th, 2011
2:27 pm

The reason that “da preacher man” eludes Jeff’s article is because he does not exemplify the character of those others mentioned in the article. SSIGator… your incessant abusive comments toward coach Richt is far more a reflection on you than him. Negativity is not a healthy choice.

PMC

June 12th, 2011
2:32 pm

Wait, so the Stewart’s were spreading false rumors about the CIW, but the CIW is still a drunk? “Just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean the world’s not out to get you?”

That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, they might as well hire Rich Rod back. He’s not busy. Speaking of disasters…..

spider

June 12th, 2011
2:33 pm

How about a report on the biggest cheaters in all of college sports BYU

PMC

June 12th, 2011
2:34 pm

Charles, the graduating players at Ohio State are not the ones winning games for them. I think that’s part of the point really. Ohio State is an excellent learning institution with an absolutely pathetic compliance department, purpose built to use the schools reputation to cover up massive rules violations…. so they could win football games.

BAMA STAN

June 12th, 2011
2:51 pm

13 NATIONAL TITLES – 22 SEC TITLES!!!

Charles – Nice post – except you left out the part that Tressell lied and covered up some to the violations.

If he had integrity – he would have suspended his players before the bowl game and came clean when he found out what was going on – but the pressure to win was too great.

Hey – we have had scum bags ruin our program as well – Mike DuBose was having an affair with a staff worker, paying high school coaches and parents to direct kids to Alabama – and got caught. We had many arrogant alumni and Alabama staff workers go after other schools and pointed fingers to defray the blame.

At the end of the day – our program was guilty.
I could care less about Spurrier or Fulmer turning us in – they should have.
We deserved what we got – and buddy – it was rough to go through.

However – be humble – accept the punishment – restructure your program – and go back to winning Big 10 titles – that is what Ohio State is all about!

Roll Tide!

AU Football = Mental Giants

June 12th, 2011
2:52 pm

Enter your comments here

Sir Barks A Lot

June 12th, 2011
2:54 pm

Bo In North Carolina – I think you missed the point. What Maurice said was all the stuff he did – was on him. He went looking for cars – cash , etc. Most of the players do the same – they knowinly break the rules on their own. Tressell’s issue is that he found out about it – and did not report what he knew – so he covered it up. It cost him his job – as well as it should have.

Alex Casabian

June 12th, 2011
2:55 pm

Jeff,
To find the root of the problem, you always follow the money… which leads to the suits. Cleaning up this sport has to start there.

BUT make no mistake… EVERYONE involved is at fault. Nobody held guns to these kids heads and forced them to take money and benefits they knew to be wrong. Money doesn’t make you WHO you are… it makes you MORE of WHO you are.

George (do you miss me now) Bush

June 12th, 2011
2:57 pm

Bama Stan,
That may be the most intelligent, level-headed, reasonable statement I have ever heard a Tide fan say. Especially
“At the end of the day – our program was guilty.
I could care less about Spurrier or Fulmer turning us in – they should have.
We deserved what we got – and buddy – it was rough to go through.”

Thanks for not spewing venum as it is so easy to do when discussing issues we are so passionate about. I would enjoy the ajc sports sections and comments if we could trade the hate mongers for sane participants as yourself.

Have a lovely day, from a Dawg.

jacketdad

June 12th, 2011
3:00 pm

Bama Stan – good post – it is nice to see that some fans have their priorities in order.

Beast from the East

June 12th, 2011
3:03 pm

Bama Stan,
Well said. My Gators were guilty as all get out during the Pell years. It certainly is a tough pill to swallow but it is better to just take your lumps, learn from it and move on. No sense is being in denial as it only makes it worse.

SEC Fan

June 12th, 2011
3:06 pm

BAMA STAN -

Good post but if you had any integrity, you’d stop with your bogus claim of Nat’l Titles. Surely you can do better.

Bryce S

June 12th, 2011
3:15 pm

PMC.. having a few drinks isn’t a crime. Bear Bryant, Jackie Sherrill, Bo Schembechler, et al. all enjoyed a pop now and then. Holgosen wasn’t being disruptive and took a cab home. Don;t tell me you’ve never done that. Of course your probably a Pitt fan. Maybe you should start concerning yourself with violent behaviors like coaches striking their “baby mama’s”

Bob Gibson

June 12th, 2011
3:21 pm

As long as there are people (you and me) and money involved, there will be corruption. Period.
I expect there is little to no corruption in anything other than football and basketball, but nobody gives a rip. How long until kickoff?

Abolish HHS

June 12th, 2011
3:41 pm

Yo Jeff, it all started in West Virginia, Mr Gordon Gee was the President of WVU for about five years I believe. He was also head of the SAT program, no wonder they have dumbed it down. Check out the Mylan Pharmaceutical scandal at wvu, the President of the school had to resign for helping cover up a fake MBA for the Governors daughter, who just happened to be the CFO of Mylan (they promoted her to Co CEO or President or some such high mucky muck position when it was proven by the Pittsburgh Press that she had no MBA degree).

Abolish HHS

June 12th, 2011
3:42 pm

Oh yeah, the governor in question is now the US Senator from WVA, replacing Robert Byrd!