OSU AD Smith (And Pres. Gee): Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?

Has OSU’s AD Smith Been Trading Gold Pants for Weed at Some Tattoo Parlor?

Burnin' Up

This is rich. Really rich.  I am just stunned. OSU is is self-immolating.  Smith might just as well put on a an red robe, sit cross-legged somewhere by the new daisies and purple loosestrife down by the Olentangy, have someone pour a Ball Jar of kerosene over his head, and light a match.

Smith has lost his compass.  His latest is some unintelligible rant about “third parties.”  This is apparently a term-of-art that he heard somewhere at a “Break-out” session at an NCAA Compliance hootenany, and it stuck.  He’s not really sure what-all they are, but these “Third Parties” are — as everyone of any stature and insight within the NCAA now knows – REALLY bad people.

Because of these “Third Parties”, Smith pronounces seriously, OSU is considering hiring Private Investigators.  To “investigate” their own football players.  Gene Smith is nuts, and so is his boss, Gee, for approving of this wacky notion.  Have neither of them heard of Mussolini?  Pinochet?  What kind of iliberal education is current in Columbus these days?

I apologize.  I didn’t mean to call them mere “football players.” These are — as the NCAA pronounced in 1956 (when the NCAA knew clearly that the whole “amateur” status scheme was a fraud) — “Student-Athletes.”

But wait a minute, could I ask a question, first?  Mr. Smith, you want to hire people to tail your own students?  Have you been visiting tattoo parlors to buy weed?  Have you gone off your nut? How many other students at OSU are being followed by their own school?

And weren’t you the fellow (or maybe it was Pee Wee Gee) who has endlessly asserted, when denying the public access to emails and other documents generated by public employees at OSU, that the denial of access to those documents had to do with OSU’s inordinate and high-minded concern with “protecting students’ privacy?”

The questions are so profound and disturbing that someone has to ask: who is giving you advice, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Gee?  Are you getting advice from anyone at all?

Let’s leave aside, for one second, the moral and legal issues which pile up to heaven about this zany idea of yours, and talk about pragmatic “first” issues, like:  What kid in his right mind is going to want to sign onto a Buckeye Nation where everyone is wondering “who amongst us” is getting paid undercover?  Or, what happens if the PI hired to find out about the presence of those dastardly “Third Parties” happens to witness criminal — or potentially criminal — behavior? — or gets a tip that perhaps one (or even five) of the OSU players might, for example, be consorting with a Tattoo Parlor owner who gives/sells them tattoos, weed, whatever?   What’s the PI supposed to do then?  Does the Tattoo guy fit into the definition of dastardly “Third Party?”

Or perhaps you hire a PI, and give him access to in-house email accounts, to monitor for the presence of criminal, or possibly criminal behavior.  Or the presence of actions which might involve witness-tampering?   Would, for example, such a PI have “caught” Jim Tressel in all his lies, early-on?  – say, in May 2010, before Tressel wasted perhaps a half million dollars in OSU legal and administrative costs, while he kept his lip zipped?

Is Tressel one of those “Third Parties?” No, I guess not, he is (or was) a “First Party” who engaged in illegal behaviors.  Mr. Smith, let me ask you this: should you not logically be more concerned about illegal activity by First Parties, like Jim Tressel — your own employee — than you might be about Third Parties?

And Mr. Smith, how do we decide exactly who these wretched “Third Parties” are, who ought be followed and outed by your Private Investigators?  Let’s suppose that, for example, when you negotiated that $3.5 million annual salary contract with Jim Tressel several years ago, he had an agent to represent him in those negotiations (as most every big-time head coach does.)  Would you have wanted your Private Investigators “tailing” Mr. Tressel, and his agent?  Did you have PI’s tailing Coach Fickell and his agent when that agent was on campus?

For all I know, you had an agent when you were hired as AD.  Is your agent one of those nefarious “Third Parties” which OSU cannot have on its’ property?

Another question comes to mind:  you already get these kids to sign a “contract of adhesion” [that’s a contract where the other person has little or no bargaining power], when they come to OSU, which allows you to (among many other astonishing things), examine at will their personal bank accounts.  And you sign cheaters like Jim Tressel to long-term five year contracts –while your “student-athletes” get, at a maximum, an assurance of just one year of scholarship (how’s that for job security for a 17-year old?)   Now you want to hire your own undercover agents to also follow these “one-year scholarship” students around day and night?

Is this really what you want to foster at OSU?  A sense of lurking paranoia on the part of every student-athlete?

Finally, let us suggest here that you need to stop and look deep into your heart before authorizing this kind of gestapo tactic — and to consider whether these NCAA silly rules which you apparently hold dear to your heart have much, if any foundation in reality.   Perhaps also consider whether your better alternative is to — right now — come out in favor of paying these athlete/entertainers based on their market value, so that they don’t have to  — unlike any other member of society — swear off having a smart agent to represent them in negotiation of contracts.   You should be in favor of agents who protect the people they work for from the predatory actions of others who endeavor to take advantage of their juvenile and/or uninformed status.  And, Mr. Smith, you should be ashamed of yourself, because you and Mr. Gee are now, officially, predators.  You have sunk to a new low.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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