Editorial: Athletes Don’t Deserve a Pass

With the news of Youngstown State University hiring a former tennis player that had been punished for sexual assault being uncovered through a GateHouse Media report, it’s time to take a serious look at what is acceptable to the NCAA and what isn’t.

At the University of Memphis, basketball player James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to a donation made to Wiseman’s family to cover moving costs by current coach Penny Hardaway before he had taken over as coach of the Tigers. Hardaway was considered a booster at the time, which is a big no-no to the NCAA.

Chase Young, star defensive end for Ohio State University, was given a four-game suspension due to a potential violation of the NCAA rules involving an already paid loan from a family friend. 

Reggie Bush forfeited his Heisman Trophy.

YSU president and then-football coach at the Ohio State University Jim Tressel had to step down over knowing that players sold their own autographs in exchange for tattoos and not telling the NCAA.

Southern Methodist University received the “death penalty” for boosters paying players under the table, and it still affects the university 30 years later.

In a four-year span at Baylor University, there were 52 cases of rape reported between 31 football players.

In 2017, a story came out that the Baylor football staff had a policy that arranged the parties for players and recruits where gang rapes had occurred. 

Baylor’s Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford stepped down from her position, claiming that the board at the university “made sure they were protecting the brand … instead of our students.”

While football coach Art Briles and university President Ken Starr both lost their jobs in the process, no punishment came upon the football team, unlike any of the cases involving players receiving payment.

The NCAA goes above and beyond in its punishments under the guise of “maintaining the integrity of the game.”

If integrity was something cared about, athletes convicted of sexual assault would be allowed nowhere near any field or court associated with the NCAA and the schools would receive repercussions if they failed to comply.

The simple reason is the NCAA doesn’t want the players getting any money that it can’t get a piece of itself. It’s greed that the NCAA can’t even hide well.

YSU covering up this issue is inexcusable, but sadly, it’s not just them. Society either sweeps sexual assault under the rug or, frankly, doesn’t give a shit.

It’s not that people don’t deserve the chance to redeem themselves; it’s that the worst crimes seem to be instantly forgiven, but minor offenses have the harshest penalties.

In the era of #MeToo, sports organizations still have a long way to go when it comes to handling sexual assault cases. While we should be able to forgive and let people redeem themselves, the NCAA’s policy of not caring does nothing more than give the organization another black eye on a face that’s already bruised beyond belief.