The NCAA took two of its most prestigious public universities to the proverbial woodshed because of infractions within its football programs. Just this week, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill received its penalty from the NCAA. Ohio State received its penalty in December 2011.
Both institutions take tremendous pride in their academic prowess among the nation's elite universities. The Ohio State University is considered a leader within the Big Ten academic community, while North Carolina boasts of its ranking as a top research facility in the country. With that said, both universities are considered national powers in the majority of their sports programs. To be cited for NCAA rules infractions is humiliating for administrators, coaches, faculty, students, and alumni of both universities.
Both football programs received similar penalties, although the infractions were different at each school. At Ohio State, head football coach Jim Tressel did not report violations he knew some of his players had committed. The program also had boosters paying players for work they did not do. Some players also received extra benefits in the form of cash payments, free or discounted tattoos, cash for memorabilia, loans, and discounts on cars. The school was also cited for failure to monitor its football program.
At North Carolina, the program was cited for multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation, and a failure to monitor its football program. Academic fraud stemmed from a former tutor constructing significant parts of writing assignments for three players. The tutor also provided more than $4,000 in impermissible benefits, including airfare and paying for outstanding parking tickets for 11 players after she graduated and was no longer a university employee. The tutor also refused to cooperate with the investigation.
A former Carolina assistant football coach was also cited for a failure to cooperate and unethical conduct. The case also included the provision of thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits to seven football players, who accepted more than $27,500 in benefits from various individuals, including cash, flights, meals, lodging, athletic training, admission to clubs and jewelry.
The penalties for each program mirror each other in some ways. Both received a public reprimand and centure. Both were given three-year probations until 2015. Both were given postseason bans for the 2012 season. Both lost scholarships for three years, Ohio State nine and Carolina 15. Both programs had to vacate wins, Ohio State for 2010 and 2011, and Carolina in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Both head football coaches were fired, Tressel and Butch Davis at Carolina.
I believe Carolina received more scholarship reductions because the tutor and assistant football coach refused to cooperate during the investigation. I think the Infractions committee got angry because it had to investigate longer than it wanted to. And you don't want to make the committee angry.
I believe both programs will survive and flourish after the postseason bans in 2012. Ohio State coaxed Urban Meyer out of retirement to become its head football coach. Carolina picked Larry Fedora off the campus of Southern Mississippi to lead its program. But both universities will always feel the sting of losing credibility and honor within the university communities they represent. And you can be sure that the administration at both schools will never allow a "failure to monitor its athletic program" accusation to arise again. Ever.
Steve Brennan, a former educator and college basketball coach, has Masters degrees in Educational Administration and Sport Psychology, and a Doctorate in Performance and Health Psychology. He is the author of several books, including Six Psychological Factors for Success and The Recruiters Bible (3rd Edition). He is President of Peak Performance Consultants, and the President and CEO of the Center for Performance Enhancement Research and Education (CPERE). Steve is the developer of the Success Factors Scales, both Corporate and Athletics Editions. http://www.peakperformanceconsult.com and http://thebestcollegerecruiter.com/