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Former Ohio State player states he sold memorabilia: A fan’s reaction
Former Ohio State wide receiver Ray Small confirmed to the school's newspaper, The Lantern, that he sold his Big Ten Championship rings and other memorabilia for cash and other benefits. The report should not surprise anyone who's been following the story out of Columbus.
However, the report brought up something I believe few fans or the media have thought about.
Small stated that Ohio State did inform the players about the NCAA rules involving receiving improper benefits. However, Small also noted that "as a kid you're not really listening to all of them rules."
Former defensive back Malcolm Jenkins confirmed that the Ohio State athletic department educated the players about the NCAA's rules, but also stated that players made their own decisions. So here is the question I'm pondering as a Buckeye fan: why are people so quick to judge Ohio State for the scandal yet unwilling to place blame on the players who are breaking the rules?
Both players The Lantern spoke with verified that Ohio State explained the rules to the kids. It's time fans and the media started to hold the players responsible for this. This isn't to say that the university bears no responsibility in the matter, but if a player wants to sell his memorabilia, he's going to find a way to do it. No one is going to be able to stop him. The university can only do so much. I have no idea how much policing Ohio State has done over the past decade, but at the very least, the students were informed of the rules.
So then, if students were educated about the rules, why did they ignore them? Small stated that he used the cash he made from selling his rings to pay for living expenses. We can't forget that many of these kids arrive at Ohio State poor, and when money and discounted cars are flashed in front of them, it only makes sense that they would jump on them. They're immature kids who saw an opportunity and went for it.
I think both the university and the player have much to learn from this. I also believe that we are making a bigger deal out of the situation than what it is. It's not as though the university is point-shaving or paying the players on the side. The fact that players needed to sell their memorabilia only proves they weren't getting paid. However, the university does need to take action here. If the athletic department has to become the most strict in the country, then so be it.
Maybe it's a good thing that the Big Ten is looking at stipends for living expenses. It would help student-athletes who are unable to work due to school and team responsibilities. That might be a solution. However, I'm not sure the problem will ever disappear entirely from college football. Ohio State isn't the only school facing this issue. It's just the highest-profile school in the spotlight now. Wherever there is cash needed to live or a car to be bought, the temptation will always be there for student-athletes.
In the meantime, schools need to do all they can to look after their kids, and the kids need to take responsibility for their own actions.
Derek Ciapala has been cheering for the Buckeyes since childhood and accomplished one of his lifelong dreams by graduating from the Ohio State University in 2007.
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