Newest Ohio State Scandal Latest Piece of Larger Puzzle
By Tony Gerdeman
On Monday it was announced that there were new NCAA issues for five more Buckeyes, this time in the way of wages received for work that wasn't actually performed.
All told, the number comes to $1,590 in unearned wages, or roughly the value of a basic set of rims for your average SEC superstar.
For Melvin Fellows, Marcus Hall and Etienne Sabino, it was their first walk through the NCAA gauntlet, but for Boom Herron and Devier Posey, it was decidedly not.
When you actually look at the numbers and hours worked, you can almost believe everybody but Posey when the players say that they didn't realize that they were being overpaid.
To believe that you also have to believe the players didn't know how much they were getting paid, which is what they claim.
Have you ever taken a job for a week without having an idea of how much that job was going to pay you, especially if it was two hours away from where you live? Wouldn't you at least want to know if it was going to cover your mileage?
Any time a student-athlete takes a job, they have to fill out a “Student-Athlete Employment Registration Form”. The form states that the student must abide by a set of procedures, one of which states: “I will immediately report to the Associate Athletic Director for Compliance any improper privileges or benefits offered to me or received by me.”
None of the players filled out that paperwork, and the company they were “working for”, which has employed student-athletes for years and knows how these things work, apparently forgot to ever ask them for said paperwork.
Why was the paperwork never filled out? The student-athletes said they didn't get the University involved because of the short amount of time that the job actually occupied.
A cynic would say that once the paperwork is filled out, any and all plausible deniability is forfeited. Why? Because the paperwork requires the hourly wage and number of hours worked to be filled out.
It's hard to claim that you don't know how many hours you worked or how much you made per hour if you just happened to sign a document signifying that you were completely aware of both of those items.
I can buy the fact that players wouldn't think they would need to clear something as simple as a week's worth of work, especially when nobody actually worked an entire week's worth of hours.
But what I can't buy is Devier Posey claiming that he didn't think he was overpaid when he picked up a check for 20 hours of work in February of 2010 without ever working a single hour that week.
He even admitted that he believed he was making “approximately $14 per hour”. Does he not know that $14 per hour multiplied by zero hours comes out to absolutely nothing?
Who would even know to pick up a check for a week of work in which you were never present, and what type of employer pays players for staying home?
It does lead one to believe that neither employee or employer are on the up and up here.
Imagine being called to pick up a paycheck and thinking to yourself, “Sweet! I didn't even know I worked last week!”
The most disturbing aspect of this latest scandal is the fact that both Posey and Herron went back to this cake job following their suspensions for Tatgate and got themselves hooked up once again. Granted, Herron was only overpaid by four hours ($60) and Posey was only overpaid by 3.5 hours ($52.50), but they both went back to a place that they knew was violating NCAA rules. There was no fear of getting caught, and there was no fear of doing more harm to their teammates.
You can blame compliance all you want, but if players circumvent the system in place, the school is not going to find out until something bad happens. That being said, even Luke Fickell admitted that Bobby DiGeronimo has been around for years.
By now, we all know that it is wrong for a player to sell something that is his, and it is wrong for a successful business man to spend his money by giving a student-athlete a few hundred bucks for being locally famous.
But in a victimless crime, it's apparently only wrong if you get caught, and student-athletes rarely get caught.
How do I know this? Because you have players committing multiple and repeated wrongs every year. How often does somebody get caught the very first time they do something they shouldn't be doing? How often do they get caught EVERY time they do something they shouldn't be doing?
It's a risk that every student-athlete that commits one of these wrongs takes. They put their eligibility at risk. They put their teammates' at risk. They put their coach at risk.
Why do they have this attitude? It doesn't just come out of thin air, that's for sure. They don't just show up on campus and think, “I bet this long-time booster will give me a no-show job because I'm a Buckeye.”
Somebody tells them where the hookups are, and that's where it all starts.
This isn't every student-athlete. Far from it, and it's not every football player, again, far from it, and the student-athletes aren't the only ones at fault.
I say this every time I have to write one of these reactionary pieces to the latest scandal, but a player with a hand out is just a player with a hand out until somebody actually puts something in his hand, and there seems to be an endless supply of well-funded followers willing to be a part of something that they consider so special.
The irony, of course, is that the more hands that are out, and the more gifts that are given, what used to be special becomes less and less special every single year.
As the University gets dragged through the mud by scandal after scandal, it will become more and more unrecognizable to those who love it most.
Though maybe it will eventually lead to exactly what Ohio State needs right now--nobody left to give the handouts.
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