The NCAA’s decision to sellout their stated core values of “The highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship,” in order to keep their benefactors happy worked to perfection last night. Four of the five Ohio State players who were recently found guilty of major NCAA violations, but allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl anyway, starred in the game. Between them they led their team in passing yards, receiving yards, the top two in rushing yards, as well as intercepting the pass that saved the game with a minute remaining as Arkansas was poised to score the winning touchdown.

I have written previously about the two key components in any successful organization being leadership and communication. Consistency in your actions is essential to good leadership. What message is the NCAA sending when this season’s violations at other universities resulted in immediate suspensions? Why is a BCS bowl game treated differently? The only obvious difference is the considerably larger amount of money the NCAA is paid to broadcast BCS bowl games versus regular season games. The popular perception is that the NCAA did not want to ruin a BCS game by suspending players and risk upsetting their sponsors.

Whether they intended to or not, the NCAA has shown a lack of leadership and poor communication, causing a severe blow to their integrity. If you visit the NCAA’s website the first thing you see is the following: “The NCAA’s core purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.” How exactly is treating BCS bowl games differently fair or equitable to the student-athlete?

Currently the letters NCAA stand for No Credibility At All.

In an effort to help the NCAA regain some of its integrity, may I suggest the following NCAA rule changes:

1)      Any player in a BCS bowl game who commits a penalty that is subject to ejection, will serve that ejection penalty in a non-televised game the following season. If however that player is a senior, the player who assumes his position will sit out the said game the following season.

2)      All penalties committed during the course of a BCS bowl game will be assessed in the first non-televised game of the following season

3)      From here forward the NCAA reserves all right’s to ad placement on players pants (think NASCAR), for which the players and schools will receive no compensation.

Deferred punishment never works. If you don’t believe me, try using it with your kids. This was a teachable moment for the NCAA, the leadership at Ohio State University and coach Jim Tressell, and all three failed in their most important mission – to educate the students under their charge about the costs of their actions.

Ohio State may have won the game last night, but if you believe as I do, that integrity comes first. Where does that leave the NCAA and Ohio State?

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