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Commentary: Coaches expect players to ‘Do as I say, not as I do’

If Ohio State athletes are expected to follow the rules and to not confuse their status with power, OSU coaches and athletic administrators need to set a better example.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles concluded its investigation into the purchase of 25 cars by OSU athletes, declaring that these purchases were legitimate.

Included in the 65-page report from the BMV is a transcript of an investigation conducted by Tim Shaw, investigator for the BMV.

Shaw’s transcription included an interview, conducted on May 12, with Aaron Kniffin, a former employee of Jack Maxton Chevrolet. In the interview, Kniffin said that no players or their family members received special deals on their cars.

Also included in the report, Shaw recorded Kniffin as saying that several OSU coaches received cars to drive, in exchange for tickets.

“Kniffin also stated that Jack Maxton owner Jeff Mauk received tickets from OSU coaches for giving them cars to drive,” Shaw reported. “Kniffin stated that this practice was common.”

Common? Coaches are going to give tickets to car dealerships in exchange for the chance to drive nice cars, but expect the opposite from their players?

Do as I say, not as I do.

OSU coaches are making more than enough money to buy their own vehicles. The “common” practice of coaches trading tickets for their own personal gain is not an NCAA violation.

University spokesman Jim Lynch told The Lantern that these exchanges are a part of a program written in the coach’s contract. Lynch said these practices are on-par with other Big Ten schools.

But it doesn’t look good.

On Aug. 16, 2010, the BMV conducted a separate investigation. Led by BMV investigators Tim Hughes and Todd Ballinger, this investigation made some interesting observations concerning dealer-plated cars. In their report, they dictated their visits to the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex to investigate this possible misuse of dealer tags given to players.

They found that while they visited, a high number of vehicles in the parking lots surrounding the WHAC were owned by dealerships. They concluded that OSU coaches and administrators were driving these cars.

Ballinger also reported that Doug Archie, an associate athletics director for compliance and camps at OSU, was driving a dealer-owned vehicle.

“Archie advised that he has a dealer-plated vehicle and he gets the vehicle in exchange for tickets,” Ballinger reported.

In the same report, Archie told investigators that there was only one reason a player would be driving a dealer-owned vehicle.

“(An) OSU student athlete would only be allowed to operate a ‘loaner’ vehicle from (a) motor vehicle dealer if their personal vehicle was at the dealership for service or repair,” Ballinger reported.

So why is there a double standard? OSU officials and coaches preach humility and service to their players, but what kind of lesson is that coming from someone trading football tickets to car dealerships to drive around a nice car?

Currently, the NCAA does not have the jurisdiction to ban this “tickets for cars” practice, as long as it isn’t athletes making the trades. The university, however, has the power to control it.

The university has a lot of issues to deal with currently, including a meeting with the NCAA on Aug. 12, but this is one issue that should be on their radar.

While the NCAA may not consider this kind of activity to be “improper benefits,” every part about this “common” practice is improper, backwards and wrong.

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