By Tom Grant
PhD student, Center for ETHICS*
Coverage of sleaziness in college football this week has rivaled the Barry Bonds trial. We learned about the "money handshake" and sexual favors offered to recruits at such schools such as Ohio State and Auburn. As HBO reported on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," former Auburn players say they were given cash payments in book bags and envelopes, as well as offered sex.
In another story, Jim Tressel, coach of Ohio State, is being assailed for covering up NCAA violations by his players. Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post says Tressel betrayed his duty to his players. She writes:
"If I were a coach and I knew that five of my players were not only violating NCAA rules, they were doing it with a man being investigated by the federal government for drug trafficking, I wouldn’t turn to a 'mentor' of one of them. I’d turn first to my athletic director and the university counsel to see how best to keep these five players from ending up on the wrong end of a very unpleasant federal investigation — or worse.
"That’s your job as coach: to protect your players. You go into parents’ living rooms and promise them you’ll take their kids, coach ’em up, give them an education and keep them out of trouble. You don’t make promises to their 'mentors.' And if you do, you’d better stop. 'Mentor' is a word that should be raising eyebrows at the NCAA all the way to the ceiling."
And then there's the case of Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker using money from the non-profit organization to pay for strip clubs, birthday parties at Pebble Beach and sending friendly politicians to football games in Chicago and Boston. Junker said he needed to take clients to the strip club because athletes are known to frequent such establishments and that makes them a good place to do business.
Some female sports fans are disgusted. Here's what The Stir said about the allegations involving Ohio State: "And it's gross. Morally. Ethically. Legally. Buckets of cash dropped on college athletes are an insult to the other hardworking students of the university, and we've been promised plenty of money stories on tonight's Real Sports broadcast. But a case of prostitutes sent to players is demoralizing to the tens of thousands of women who make up the Buckeye nation."