Ohio State beefs up compliance safeguards

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
11:40
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Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel paid the heaviest price in the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal, but the school's compliance department took a beating as well.

The details that emerged about Ohio State's compliance structure -- or lack thereof -- didn't paint the athletic department in a good light. Ohio State in February approved a new university compliance office, and the school appears to be taking the right steps to prevent similar violations from happening again.

As The Toledo Blade first reported this week, Ohio State sent the NCAA a 805-page report that, among other things, details new policies in place that increase athlete education about violations, prevent memorabilia sales and track car ownership (a major issue with former quarterback Terrelle Pryor). Ohio State is directly addressing the issues that surfaced in the scandal.

Check out the full report.

From The Blade:
An athletics compliance staff bolstered from five workers to a dozen is leaving little to chance. According to the report reviewed by The Blade, the school nearly tripled its number of rules education sessions, charged a former NCAA investigator with monitoring its highest-profile players, and reached out to 2,000 area businesses -- then employs exhaustive measures to verify the lessons take hold.

Among the safeguards include random audits to ensure current players have not sold or exchanged gear or awards, and license-plate software that allows school officials to determine car ownership.

One of the most publicized elements of the old compliance structure was the lack of a staff member in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Ohio State's football headquarters. Ohio State added former Tennessee compliance director Brad Bertani to its staff to deal specifically with football. Bertani has his office in the WHAC and travels with the football team.

Ohio State is also focused on ensuring no school-issued memorabilia is sold while athletes are still playing.
Players used to be able to purchase and take home gear and apparel like bowl-game jerseys or the alternate Nike helmets worn against Michigan in 2009 and 2010. Now, the uniforms will be kept in a secure container at the football facility until the player leaves the school.

As for awards like Big Ten championship rings or the gold pants trinket the Buckeyes receive for beating Michigan, players can still take those home. But they must be able to produce the goods in "random audits." Athletes sign a form acknowledging the school can make them "prove that I have not sold these items."

These are encouraging steps for a department that justifiably took a beating after the scandal. While time will tell how effective these measures will be, Ohio State deserves credit for directly addressing some major problems.

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