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Monday, May 16, 2005

I know that's like saying "Jessica Simpson still dumb," but in about a half-hour OSU will be holding a press conference to announce the findings of its investigation into its football, men's basketball, and women's basketball programs after, well, you probably know already about the Clarett stuff and the Boban Savovic stuff... but did you know Dave Thomas tried to give Savovic money? Yeah, that Dave Thomas, the dead one from the commercials.

Might the hammer go down? Dunno, but the O-Zone is somewhat apprehensive. If it does, expect an awful lot of Ed Martin finger-pointing from Buckeye fans over the next few days... and a deep, evil cackle from mgoblog's mysterious underground headquarters.

Update: Press conference didn't announce anything earth shattering but bodes unwell for the OSU basketball program. The Ozone has a list of the NCAA allegations up (sans permalink, the bastards). All pertain to basketball save for the last one, which is about the Troy Smith fiasco at the end of last year.

Most damning is this one:

Former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien, through then-assistant coach Paul Biancardi, provided a cash payment of approximately $6,700 to then-recruit Alex Radojevic.
That's a nasty, nasty violation if it can be proven to be true. Michigan's Ed Martin problem was an instance of a third party giving money to players as an extra benefit. That allegation is the head coach giving money to a player as a recruiting inducement. The amount of the payment is largely irrelevant to the NCAA once you get past a certain petty threshold, what's important is who is doing it and for what purpose. The head coach is the worst person to be doing it. A recruiting inducement is the worst purpose to have. Put them both together and that's asking to get gored by the NCAA's horns.

I think OSU's basketball program may have more trouble on the way. If those allegations can be proven to be true the NCAA will probably perceive the OSU violations as systemic and institutional and levy scholarship reductions and at least an additional year of postseason ineligibility. Still a long way to go before the end of this whole thing.

Update II: Stewart Mandel has a great article on the OSU infractions that explains everything very clearly. Mandel says $6,700 payment I referenced is not as bad as it looks at first blush but several other violations are quite serious and can be backed up by phone records and O'Brien's own testimony. Money graf:
While the Michigan scandal involved much bigger player names -- such as Chris Webber and Robert Traylor -- and larger amounts of money -- reportedly $616,000 in total benefits -- an examination of NCAA case precedent indicates the Ohio State findings may actually merit harsher sanctions than the Wolverines'.
Bingo, Mr. Mandel. Mandel also lifts a sentence from the the NCAA's report that upheld Michigan's appeal:
"A review of [past] decisions ... which upheld a postseason ban revealed the presence of one or more of the following factors in each case: repeat violator status, lack of institutional control, or academic fraud. None of these factors is present in this case."
Check, check, and check. OSU is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination here.