Keeping Score

Why Is Ohio State Football Monitoring Player Checking Accounts?

Sure, a college player can benefit from budgeting advice from coaches. But is snooping on spending going too far?

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If you’re convinced that the NCAA is a bureaucratic monster that forces schools to needlessly invest time, and money, making sure “student-athletes” follow rules that violate basic free market principles, you should probably read this piece. We’ll wait, while you pull your hair out.

The Chronicle of Higher Education details the steps that Ohio State University is taking to ensure NCAA compliance for it athletes. (Thanks, Big Lead, for pointing readers to this piece). Ohio State football, you may recall, finished this season undefeated under first-year coach Urban Meyer. But the current players won’t be competing for a national championship because past players traded Ohio State memorabilia for tattoos.

Writer Brad Wolverton notes that “Ohio State now spends $1.1 million a year just trying to stay out of the NCAA’s doghouse.” Among the tasks for Ohio State’s beefed-up compliance department: background checks on the 4,000 or so people who receive free game tickets from Ohio State football players. Because heaven forbid that an agent — whose goal is to make a college athlete, and by extension himself, as much money as possible — shows up on such a list. In college sports, cashing in on your talents is against the rules.

(MORE: The College Football top 25 – As Ranked By Academics)

The most troubling part, however, comes near the end of the story. The Chronicle writes:

The university, too, is expecting more of coaches. Starting this season, each assistant football coach is responsible for ensuring that every player has a checking account and a personal budget (players can’t suit up otherwise). The coaches are required to monitor players’ spending habits to make sure they don’t get in financial trouble.

In October, we wrote about how some college athletic departments monitor the social media activity of their athletes, and why this practice is raising privacy concerns (California, for example, recently passed a law that essentially banned colleges from doing this). Now, coaches are delving into checking accounts? Sure, athletes can benefit from such oversight — maybe they’ll be more cognizant of their choices, and how they budget. These lessons can serve them well down the road.

But Ohio State is also requiring checking accounts to protect Ohio State. To make sure athletes aren’t suddenly buying things, like shiny new cars, that boosters might be funding. Such a rules violation could bring down a program, and cost a school millions. Also, by monitoring spending, teams are monitoring personal, off-field behavior. Want to act like a college kid, and unwind at a local bar? Be careful about dropping too much cash. A coach might find out you stayed out late.

Because of the culture of compliance that the NCAA has created, schools are babysitting athletes. But isn’t learning how to live on your own at least part of the point of college?

(MORE: Jock Police – Should Colleges Censor The Tweets Of Athletes?)

(MORE: Should College Athletes Major In Sports?)

9 comments
Ranger211
Ranger211 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Isn't the LACK of oversight what got OSU football in trouble to begin with?

Maybe, just maybe, they're trying to help young men keep their noses clean and restore some-- oh, I don't know-- integrity to the program. 

Is there unfairness and corruption in college sports? Absolutely. Is it still worth it to try and play by some semblance of integrity? Absolutely.

roberG
roberG like.author.displayName 1 Like

So, we get this sanctimonious tripe from one Sean Gregory. He whose every written word is reviewed, screened, digested, and approved by an editor. And this level of oversight is all AFTER Sean has completed his work in public policy and journalism at Princeton and Columbia respectively. As a matter of fact getting a college education at one of America's leading institutions is "cashing in on your talents" Sean. Yes the university is protecting itself with the monitoring. Would you, Sean be willing to risk an entire athletic program on the behavior of these teenagers. Furthermore, although I don't have a degree in journalism, (do they still teach fact checking at Columbia?), I can casually attest that the age for legal alcohol consumption in Ohio is 21. So for most of the players on any team at Ohio State, or any other American university for that matter, "unwinding at a local bar", is not a viable option. Ohio State has 19 men's and 20 women's varsity programs as well as numerous club sports. The athletic department is self sufficient and football provides most of the funds with which all of these programs operate. So, yes, the university is going to monitor, especially in light of the recent scandal, as they should. To do otherwise would be criminal and warrant dismissal.

NaperBuck24
NaperBuck24 like.author.displayName 1 Like

For those of you critical of the steps being taken by tOSU, you are likely the first to blame a university for not knowing what was going on with a student athlete and allowing behavior contrary to NCAA and university rules to occur. You can't count on the parents, many times they are the problem (see Cam Newton). Universities need to do all they can to not only protect the kids (and teach) but to also protect themselves from outside influences.

JimCimino
JimCimino

NCAA under Emmert is a Gestapo organization. That jerk is power hungry. He thinks he is college sports. He forgets that it's the colleges that created him and they can dissolve him. As Bill Cosby said once, " I brought you into this world and I can take you out ". 

michaeljohnkelley
michaeljohnkelley

Is Ohio State a villain in this scenario, or an example of what must be done to stay within the ridiculous NCAA guidelines. OSU initially got in trouble for players selling their own memorabilia in trade for tattoos. Where else in our society is it illegal to sell you own property or trade it for something else. NOWHERE. The constraints the NCAA puts on the players and coaches are ridiculous. Recently deceased Hall of fame coach Rick Majerus was once found in violation of NCAA guidelines for taking one of his players out to a $10 dinner after his father had died. The villain in this story is NCAA for forcing academic institutions to allocate money to staying in compliance instead of towards students. Anyone who believes this isn't happening at their favorite school is a fool.

To LiWright, many of these kids come from families that are not capable of teaching them these skills. The University is not only trying to stay within the rules but also help these young men learn important "life sklls" they will need later in life.

Yoda
Yoda

OSU is Sponsored by Nationwide Insurance - then they have no civil liberties - they are monitoring their checking accounts, e-mail, cell phones, they have a gps on the autos - ( nationwide - soviet union - pre 1938 germany - osu ) If it is illegel then it is being done by the evil blue box under of guise of not getting into ncaa trouble. 

LiWright
LiWright

Why do these (mainly black) athletes put up with this nonsense?  Their moms and pops should pull them out of Ohio and place them somewhere else.

To Yourefired:  the point you raise "life skills" is not the problem.  Their parents can monitor their checking account.  Read into it a little deeper -- the University wants to make sure they're not buying shiny stuff, which means they're getting paid by some outside person.

jkd1983
jkd1983

@LiWright 

Seriously? I am pretty sure you didn't hear about Cam Newton and his FATHER?? Sometimes, the parents are worse than the kids (white/black/Asian/Latino- no matter). Without weighing in on the NCAA debate, I don't blame tOSU for doing this, after receiving the sanctions from the NCAA (but you also have to fault Tressel for the coverup). You should really take a page from RGIII's book, and stop defining a race and let the talent (and mistakes) speak for itself.

yourefired
yourefired

This is the dumbest argument I have ever read. Essentially you are arguing that 18 year olds that are in an educational institution shouldn't be taught life skills. When is an appropriate time to make sure someone learns what is an appropriate way to spend money? After they are in heaps of debt in anticipation for an NFL contract that may never come. You sir are stupid.


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