OSU Players Would’ve Gotten Off if They Had Lawyers: Pryor Got the Cash

Pryor was handed the cash. The “tips of the icebergs” which you see are almost always evidence of very big icebergs.  The NCAA should be required to provide an attorney, paid for by the school, to each player accused of NCAA violation.  Pryor et al deserve to get some payment for helping out a charity.

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting today (Ohio State Booster Admits Role in Payments) that a fellow by the name of Robert “Bobby” DiGeronimo admitted to having played a “pivotal” role in having cash supplied at the charity banquet which resulted in $200 flowing to each of the three OSU players recently suspended. (I will again recommend here the excellent reporting done by Sports by Brooks, concerning this issue, and many others.)

Brooks makes clear that Bobby G has had a long history of being a “homeboy”, or “johnny on the spot” for OSU players for at least a decade.  Which shouldn’t surprise anyone, because Brooks’ reporting reinforces a fundamental tool, or perspective, for analyzing allegations of NCAA violation by any school or player. I will expound on this in a later post, but this is it: the “tip of the iceberg” that you see in some allegation of violation which leaks out through the media or otherwise is the Tip of a Very Deep Iceberg. The NCAA just never gets to the bottom of it. But more on this later.

Here’s why this recent set of circumstances at the “Charity Event” is — like almost all of these fact patterns — so interesting.  The Bobby G stops short of saying that he actually provided the cash.  But the report is that the cash was given to Terrelle Pryor.  It’s convenient, and makes you scratch your head.  Here’s why this happened: Pryor knew, at the time this Charity event took place, that he was “a goner.”  He had, I am guessing, no plans to return to school, and knew, at the time, that he’d have no further role as a Buckeye — and also would be, therefore, much less subject to, or intimidated by, an NCAA investigation or sanction.

Here’s my point: Pryor and the three players, I will guess here, knew full well they ought not — according to the NCAA regs – be receiving cash in this setting. And their instincts (and Bobby G’s) were to somehow “soften” the movement of cash as much as possible. But the entire scene is a demonstration of how the NCAA framework is a tilted “adjudicatory” framework, in favor of coaches (like Tressel) and Athletic Directors.  Because the big shots get the highest paid and best lawyers.

In contrast, the players get ZIPPO in terms of legal representation.  These schools like OSU, and others awash in cash,  ought to be required to pay for an attorney for each player accused of some NCAA violation.  As I’ve pointed out before, perhaps the most amateurish element in the entire big-time college sports setting is the adjudicatory process as it is administered by the NCAA.  Nonetheless, this rinky-dink, wink-wink (as regards coaches and AD’s) system can wreak havoc on the reputations and professional-employment prospects of these players who get caught up in some allegation of NCAA impropriety.   In summary, I will contend here: if those three OSU players who remain suspended had had lawyers in all of this, they would have “gotten off.”   The payment went to Pryor, who can then contend any number of things as to why he forwarded the cash to the 3 player-friends.  I am very confident that — had they gotten the same kind of legal advice that, say JT, had, they’d never have been suspended. (After all, the evidence makes clear that JT committed intentional, long-term and deliberate fraud, and no one every mentioned that in the NCAA decision: pretty good lawyering, huh?)

One final point needs to be made:  the “wrongdoing” which the NCAA alleges these players engaged in, is the result of violation of an entirely “NCAA-created” voluntary regulation.  There was no criminal or civil offense. Moreover, these players are giving their time to HELP A CHARITY!!!  I support them in doing so, and contend that they committed no wrong whatsoever, and recognize that they need cash alot more than, say, Gene Smith or Jim Tressel needs pocket change.

About brewonsouthu

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