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Ohio State Football and Our Broken Justice System Have a Lot in Common

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Message Roger Shuler

How did Jim Tressel get away with misconduct for more than 25 years? He repeatedly blamed his victims, the ones who tried to point out the truth behind "The Senator's" image.

One instance came when allegations surfaced at Youngstown State that the football program was violating NCAA rules, and President Leslie Cochran was forced to ask a few questions. From the SI: article:

Over the next month Cochran quizzed football staff members in informal meetings. He believed that if anybody was aware of what was going on in the program, it was Tressel. But Tressel told Cochran that the tipster was just a disgruntled former employee. Given Tressel's sterling reputation, Cochran felt confident relaying a nothing-to-see-here message to the NCAA.

A similar event took place after Tressel became head coach at Ohio State, when former star running back Maurice Clarett told ESPN that he had witnessed multiple NCAA violations while playing for the Buckeyes. Clarett said coaches connected him to boosters who gave him thousands of dollars. Reports SI:

The NCAA never sanctioned Ohio State for any of those allegations. Clarett didn't respond when investigators tried to contact him after the ESPN story, so they weren't able to proceed. Like the Youngstown State whistle-blower years earlier, Clarett was dismissed as disgruntled.

We now know that Maurice Clarett should not have been labeled as "disgruntled"; he was telling the truth. So were others who tried to raise red flags about Jim Tressel.

Here's how SI  describes the see-no-evil attitude that allowed a scoundrel like Jim Tressel to prosper for some 25 years:

For more than a decade, Ohioans have viewed Tressel as a pillar of rectitude, and have disregarded or made excuses for the allegations and scandal that have quietly followed him throughout his career. His integrity was one of the great myths of college football. Like a disgraced politician who preaches probity but is caught in lies, the Senator was not the person he purported to be.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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