During its years of
struggle against Francis Lawrence and the Giaconia-Collins-O'Hara
Board of Governors, RU1000 pointed out many times that Ohio State
University (OSU) and its football coach "Jim"
Tressel were a perfect example of how commercialized Div IA athletics
undermine and ultimately destroy universities as institutions
of higher learning.
for OSU back then were (1) to fire Jim Tressel, (2) to abolish
its Div IA football franchise, (3) to do away with "athletic
scholarships" in all sports, and (4) to drastically raise
admissions standards. Doing so, we suggested, would do much to
get rid of OSU's reputation as an academically deplorable football
factory and move it toward becoming a real university.
In Confessions of
a Spoilsport, his memoir of the Rutgers 1000 campaign, Professor
Dowling described a signal episode in the career of "Jim"
Tressel, the brief rise and fall of a recruit named Maurice Clarett:
Confessions of a Spoilsport:
"The separate reality created for
athletes by Div IA sports was even more on display in the case
of Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett, who as a freshman
carried OSU to a national championship.
On campus, driving a Lexus SC 430, Clarett
moved among ordinary mortals as a god, with every desire -- money,
girls, expensive clothes, breathless adulation from students
and adults alike -- granted as soon as it was wished.
His eligibility, Clarett later reported,
had been bestowed by bogus grades and credit for nonexistent
courses. Looking up from the field to the hundred thousand adoring
spectators in the OSU stands, or at the state legislators, wealthy
boosters, and high-level university administrators gazing raptly
down from the corporate skyboxes on high, Clarett would have
been delusional not to believe that this multitudinous, throbbing,
televised spectacle -- rather than some ephemeral institution
of higher learning -- was the real Ohio State.
'The only thing that matters at Ohio State,'
Clarett said, 'is football.' Yet a bitter quarrel with Coach
Jim Tressel would soon enough teach Clarett to look back on his
football celebrity as a vanished fairy tale.
'Ohio State created me,' he would tell
an ESPN reporter, almost in wonderment at the total change. Then
Ohio State unmade him. In the aftermath Clarett would undergo
something like a complete psychological disintegration."
We've just learned that
OSU has at last taken our first recommendation. We will wait with interest to
see if, having belatedly come to its senses, it will now proceed
wth numbers (2), (3), and (4). We wish them the best of luck.