Last month NCAA president Mark Emmert reportedly said that there was “a misperception in the media about the finality” of the Ohio State situation.
But if any “misperception” exists, it’s largely the NCAA’s doing. By refusing to disclose where they are in the process of closing their case against the Buckeyes, they have allowed a cloud of suspicion to surround the University.
Even today there were conflicting stories about whether OSU received a letter from the NCAA letting the Buckeyes know that their investigation of the football program continues.
ESPN’s Pat Forde said the enforcement staff informed Ohio State they were still at work. That report was almost immediately rebutted by reporters in Columbus, including the Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz.
But would “no letter” really translate to “no investigation?” Even that is unclear.
There are actually plenty of signs that the NCAA has not wrapped up their work.
Besides the comment made by Emmert, my co-worker at 97.1 The Fan, Scott Torgerson, was one of the first to report the NCAA has yet to speak to Dennis Talbott, a memorabilia dealer who has been linked to possible violations at OSU. Torgerson indicates that another memorabilia dealer may also be under the NCAA’s microscope.
Although the Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigated automobile sales to Ohio State athletes, their investigation was only able to show no laws were broken. It made no conclusions about possible NCAA rules violations.
And we saw how the NCAA dragged its feet in the case of USC, waiting to see if a lawsuit against Reggie Bush would bring to light any new accusations. Is it out of the realm of possibility that the NCAA is keeping an eye on the case of ESPN vs. Ohio State?
At the same time, unless the NCAA is pursuing a new, as of yet unreported lead, you could make an almost equally compelling argument that there might be very little more that the NCAA could hope to prove at this point.
Former Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor is alleged to be the player most tangled up with Dennis Talbott. But the signal caller has moved on without any sign that he plans to speak to investigators. As of now, there’s no compelling reason for him to do so either.
Would the former friend of Pryor, the one who insisted ESPN darken his face and deepen his voice when he accused Pryor of taking money, be more forthcoming if the NCAA came knocking?
Although the BMV’s review was inconclusive, how likely is it that NCAA rules were broken if the dealership made money on every sale to OSU athletes where there didn’t happen to be extenuating circumstances?
And Ohio State responded to ESPN’s lawsuit with another document dump.
All this could be cleared up if the NCAA was more transparent. Their policy, however, is to not comment on when an investigation has reached its conclusion.
As a result, there’s a lot of smoke, and we know there’s a fire…because it’s Ohio State that’s getting burnt.
UPDATE: Ohio State concedes that President E. Gordon Gee received a letter from the NCAA on August 3rd, but according to a spokesman that letter, “Makes no reference to additional sanctions or a prolonged investigation.”