Originially published in the Bargain Hunter (Tuscarawas and Holmes editions):
I can’t speak to whether Jim Tressel got a raw deal when it became very apparent to him that he needed to resign as coach of his beloved Ohio State Buckeyes football team.
Apparently, under Tressel’s watch, more than just a few players were getting away with their own versions of “Pawn Stars” by trading memorabilia for tattoos, marijuana and who knows what else. Tressel’s “crime” was that he knew it was going on but failed to pass the information along to the university and the NCAA.
Players trading autographed jerseys for ink is a symptom of a system that is woefully out of whack. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ohio State operates the costliest athletic program in the country, spending nearly $110 million annually.
Under this NCAA-regulated system, a lot of people are getting rich. In fact, television revenue is so lucrative that Division 1 conferences formed their own cable networks, which you, the consumer, pay for when you cover the cable/satellite bill every month.
But the players who put the show on every Saturday in the autumn aren’t supposed to share in the proceeds. Nope, they’re amateurs. They’re supposed to play for free.
Many are kids who honed their skills on the playgrounds of urban America. Their families, I suspect, are not necessarily functional in the traditional sense.
And then we make them superstars, elevating them well above their academic-oriented peers. Boosters slip them cash and provide cars to drive. And entrepreneurs apparently see profit in collectibles. What Ohio State fan wouldn’t want a jersey signed by Terrell Pryor hanging in his man cave.
Perhaps Tressel’s looking the other way was born of guilt over his handsome income and his inability to share the wealth with his players. I’d like to think so anyway.
Sanctions and suspensions at Ohio State will have a chilling effect for awhile. But eventually boosters and predators will tempt again while coaches gladly plead ignorance.
So it goes in college football. Bet accordingly.
I first met Kathy Vaughan at a party that some college buddies and I attended on a farm somewhere outside New Philadelphia. I’m not sure of the year, but it was while I was a student at Kent State in the very early ’70s.
At the time, Kathy was on the state desk at the Times-Reporter daily newspaper. I was studying journalism at the time and was in awe of someone who actually was earning a living doing it.
Needless to say, I asked for advice.
“Go into something else,” she said.
Obviously I didn’t take her advice and, as fate would have it, I took a job in 1973 at Kathy’s newspaper. It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I wasn’t a very good writer. I know that because Kathy told me so -- on numerous occasions.
Seriously, I had trouble writing a coherent police blotter item.
I began to question my career path. But with Kathy’s and other editors’ help, it began to click. And in the ensuing 36 years, Kathy and I spent more time together than most husbands and wives. And she is a principal reason why the newspaper once upon a time was so well received.
Kathy is retiring after a long, award-winning career. And while casual readers of the daily newspaper might not notice her absence, I certainly will.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Sandy Stewart, the T-R’s managing editor who retired in 2009. Sandy, like Kathy, is a stickler for details and continues to edit my literary pieces to this day. Perhaps Kathy can share in that task after she enjoys some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Dick Farrell is a contributor to the Bargain Hunter. You can access this column at www.gpubs.com.You can read his blog at http://dickfarrell.blogspot.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter (dfarrell_dover).