When the news broke about Terrelle Pryor and his four fellow Buckeyes being suspended, I had the same reaction as most college sports fans around the country.
The student-athletes were at fault. They should have known better about the repercussions of selling memorabilia for cash and tattoos. They shouldn't be allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.
But then I happened across an article by Bill Robinowitz in The Columbus Dispatch about Julie Posey (mother of suspended player DeVier and former Ohio cornerback Julian) talking about how hard it is to pay the extra expenses outside tuition, housing, meals, etc. that athletes and their parents must pay for.
Posey, a single mother of four, must pay for extra expenses, such as providing a car because DeVier must live farther off-campus because of the fanfare around him and Ohio State's other star athletes.
She also mentions how much easier it was to provide for Julian in Athens, with the lower housing costs and less prestigious program making it not nearly as difficult as providing for DeVier in Columbus.
While I believe some of her remarks are a little bit of a stretch (Did DeVier really need a car, or could he have taken public transportation?), her comments reverberate throughout the college football world.
It's no secret that many athletes don't come from extremely wealthy families. They may receive their payday when they get to the NFL, but how do they provide for the many out-of-pocket expenses that come from being on a college campus? I agree that living in a big city like Columbus, for a big program like Ohio State, would put a huge burden on athletes from less fortunate backgrounds.
So was selling a Big Ten Championship ring for $1,200 to help his family really such a bad thing? For a family that has a single mother trying to provide for four children, it's not morally wrong at all. It's a lot better than your father trying to shop you around for over $100k, Mr. Newton.
Yes, Posey, Pryor and the other Buckeyes should have realized that the NCAA has more rules and regulations than North Korea. But I don't fault him for attempting to help his struggling mother. I'm sure many athletes around the country are faced with the same dilemma throughout their college careers as they try to balance providing for themselves and following the rules.
What would the solution be? I can't really say. The NCAA hierarchy is obviously against opening up their regulations, but something must be done. With the NCAA itself and bigger programs like Ohio State and Auburn bringing in so much money, why can't more be provided to help athletes like Posey?
In a year where North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Southern California all were in hot water with the NCAA, changes must be made. With players talking to agents, selling their Heisman trophies and championship rings, or selling themselves to the highest bidder, things have to change.
As much as fans clamor about a playoff system come about, this is college football's most permeating issue that should be first on their off-season agenda.
- Will Frasure is a senior studying journalism from Cincinnati. Send him an e-mail at email@example.com if you think Posey and the other Ohio State athletes aren't as at fault as has been perceived.