by Darren Anderson
September 4, 2018
First, let me properly introduce myself since I failed miserably last week (haha). I am Darren Anderson, a new contributor to Sports Carolina Monthly. If you couldn’t tell throughout last week’s article, I’m a diehard Carolina fan. I bleed Carolina blue to the point that my two son’s names are Michael and Jordan, just kidding. Anyone who is married knows the guy’s suggestions are just a formality. Now, to the serious stuff. This week I’ll be looking into two different scandals and the penalties for each party involved.
During Big Ten media days, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was presented with questions about the firing of one of his assistant coaches (Zach Smith) and reports of arrests made for domestic violence. Meyer responded with lies: “There was nothing, I don’t know who creates a story like that,” and “I got a text last night that something happened in 2015, and there was nothing”. Smith was a former player and assistant coach for Meyer, a relationship that started in 2002 and progressed over fifteen years at multiple programs. Smith has a past that has proven to be controversial and shocking to many, but the respect Meyer had for Smith’s grandfather, Earle Bruce, could be why it took almost ten years for the truth to surface. I will not delve into the atrocious things that were swept under the rug or blatantly ignored throughout Smith’s time under Meyer. I will say that domestic violence (2009 and 2015), being arrested for felonious assault, and an affair with an Ohio State employee are just a few of the major incidents that could have resulted in termination for just cause. Ultimately, Ohio State board members and outside counsel ruled Meyer would be suspended three games without pay.
UNC Tar Sales
The biggest story to come out of Chapel Hill this off-season wasn’t landing a big recruit, the quarterback battle between Chaz Surratt and Nathan Elliott, or the progression of a program coming off a bismal three win season. Instead, yet another headline reading UNC SCANDAL. The university reported they discovered 13 football players selling team-issued shoes for profit. Surratt, the presumed starting quarterback, and key members of the offensive and defensive line were the most notable involved. In 2017, the football team began their sponsorship with “Air Jordan” and players received a bevy of gear and 175 pairs of Jordan 3’s that had not been released to the public. Shoe vendors pay high dollar for exclusive shoes and it was reported that some pairs sold for as much as $2,500, then resold for $3,500 to consumers. As a student athlete, this simply cannot happen and in no way is it an excusable action. In saying that, I can definitely understand why a player would participate, without condoning their actions. Conversations of players needing to have their share of the money that the NCAA generates, throughout its many revenue streams, have been had for many years with no real effort of figuring out a solution. I would love to file this incident under the “young and dumb” category, but even at 18-years-old you should know this wouldn’t end well. After an internal investigation, four game suspensions were given to the majority of the players, while a few received one and two games.
Dependable vs. Expendable
Above, I have stripped down two stories into their most simple form and though they seem to be on opposite ends of the severity spectrum, Meyer’s three game suspension compared to the four games for the Tar Heel players would suggest otherwise. Is there a correlation between who you are and what your punishment will be? If Urban Meyer was fired, OSU and the NCAA lose money, almost instantly. If the Tar Heel players never play another down, the NCAA wouldn’t lose a dime. One’s clout shouldn’t determine their consequence, but it does. When the view changes from monetary to morality, from lying to leading, maybe then and only then will we see everyone held to an equal standard. On one hand, we have a head coach of a championship contending program with a career winning percentage of 85%. On the other hand, we have 13 players on a team that is literally non-existent on the relevancy scale and pretty much immediately replaceable. The bottom line is there is no consistency when the NCAA will step in on these self-imposed penalties. Is four games enough for students disobeying clear laws forbidding the sale of team issued equipment? Absolutely! Is 3 games enough for a decade of mishandled incidents and lying about not knowing a staff member was involved in something as severe as domestic violence? Definitely not. I normally don’t bring up an issue that I can’t offer a solution for, but I have no idea how to fix a problem when there is so much money involved. No one is asking the NCAA to be perfect, but we do expect consistency in how situations are handled.