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Jim Tressel Scandal Reveals The Absurdity Of The NCAA

Signing a magazine in exchange for tattoo is a considered a "major NCAA violation." That's ridiculous.

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This is not a piece defending Jim Tressel. In the end, he lied about what he knew and lying simply is not defensible, especially for a man in his position. And yes, it makes him out to be a total fraud given his whole integrity act that he always put on. That said, I could not help but chuckle at the absurdity of this whole situation as I read the Sports Illustrated "expose" on Tressel and the Ohio State program.

In case you didn't know, here's a little background. In the course of a drug trafficking investigation by the Justice Department, investigators raided a Columbus area tattoo parlor and found that at least six current Ohio State had traded memorabilia for tattoos. The investigators alerted Ohio State since doing so is actually an NCAA violation. Jim Tressel claimed that he had no idea that this was going on. He later admitted that he did know about the tats for memorabilia deals and had not reported it to school administrators... However, this line from the SI piece jumped out at me.

Four of Tressel's highest-profile players were found to have committed major NCAA violations, yet the coach's supporters insisted that those were isolated incidents outside his control.

Trading some memorabilia for a tattoo is a "major NCAA violation?" Doesn't anyone else find that completely absurd?

By the way, this was something that I brought up during the NCAA tournament. There were so many players inked up, not just with a few tats but full sleeves, and I was wondering where guys with no jobs(because they're not allowed) got the money for so much ink? Tattoos aren't cheap and yet there were teams like Louisville where seemingly every player was covered in tats. At least in the case of these Ohio State players, they got the ink by trading some memorabilia.

And they weren't alone. As Sports Illustrated "exposed" it wasn't just six Ohio State players trading stuff for tattoos, it was over 20! Shocking right!? They mixed this in with previous "scandals" at Ohio State such as Troy Smith taking $500 from someone. A couple free tattoos and $500? What egregious violations. What is wrong with the youth of today?! Punish them!

An artist at the tattoo shop detailed exactly what kind of memorabilia was traded.

"What they brought in depended on the kind of tattoo they wanted," says Halko. "If it was just something small, it might be a signed magazine or something like that. If it was a full sleeve, they might bring in a jersey."

Signing a magazine in exchange for a tattoo is a "major NCAA violation." Just let that sink in for a minute. This is an organization that makes billions off the backs of these players by licensing their likenesses, selling jerseys with their name, showing them on TV and countless other ways. Yet they would dare say that if a player signs a freaking magazine in exchange for a tattoo he should be suspended for having committing a major infraction?

It's not only absurd, it's insulting. It's wrong. These aren't kids being paid to throw games or something. These aren't even recruiting violations. Nothing about a guy signing a magazine for a tattoo threatens the integrity of the game or the "student" athlete.

And if Jim Tressel really thought this was no big deal, he should have the stones to stand up and say it. Don't get sanctimonious about the players, don't lie about not knowing about it... just be honest. It's not a big deal. Maybe if someone like him stood up and said it, there might finally be some changes to these arcane NCAA rules.

As with any big news story, South Park put this in perspective in a way that no one else can. If you haven't watched their episode about the NCAA, do yourself a favor and take a half hour to see it.