Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/11/11

It is curious timing, to say the least.

Instead of focusing on Purdue, the Buckeyes are dealing with more NCAA fallout (Irwin/ Getty)

Just as the Penn State sexual abuse scandal is threatening to overwhelm the college football world, the NCAA has announced that Ohio State is now charged with “failure to monitor” in connection to the ongoing investigation into improper benefits.  A convenient distraction from the vagaries of the Sanduksy case, this charge is one of the most serious that the NCAA can levy against a program.

Perhaps it’s a bit of conspiracy theory to suggest that the timing was intentional.  However, Buckeye fans and Ohio State officials have to be wondering what more the NCAA has planned for a program that has already been through the wringer.

This week should have been about preparing for Purdue.  It should have been about trying to avenge an upset loss from 2009 in which the lowly Boilermakers knocked off Terrelle Pryor and a Top 5 OSU team in West Lafayette.  But instead of articles discussing keys to victory, or analyzing Braxton Miller’s likely impact against Purdue’s weak rush defense, the focus has been shifted off the field.

And that is simply pathetic.

Yes, Ohio State committed numerous violations.  Yes, said violations represent a serious and widespread problem for which the school deserves to be punished.  The self-imposed scholarship reduction that Ohio State announced isn’t unwarranted.  This isn’t about Ohio State’s guilt.

That has been well-established.

But this investigation, which has been going on in earnest for the better part of two years, shows just how inconsistent and arbitrary the NCAA can be.  The official hearing on this matter was held back in August; why did it take until November to add a completely new charge?  Why is DeVier Posey missing virtually his entire senior year over a matter of several hundred dollars?

That the Buckeyes are being made an example of is okay, to a point.  They deserve to get nailed for what they did or didn’t do, but the punishment should be in measure with the crime.

Throughout the summer, and even after that hearing, the NCAA refrained from charge OSU with “failure to monitor”.  Originally, the Association also stated that the Buckeyes would not be charged with “lack of institutional control”.  And yet the seemingly endless and highly disorganized inquiry continues, with the NCAA tacking on whatever it see fit.

Two years.  This probe has taken on a life of its own as its examines actions that happened in the increasingly distant past.  One can’t help but notice that Ohio State is being subjected to an extremely intense microscope, given little to no sense of what is left to come.

And even that NCAA behavior would be tolerable if it applied to every program thought to be in violation.

Of course, it does not.

Though he should have stepped down in the wake of serious violations, Gene Smith is now enduring an increasingly-aburd investigation (AP)

The wheels of justice continue to run over Ohio State, backing up and striking repeatedly, while other programs enjoyed much more latitude.  Consider the investigation into Cam Newton’s pay-for-play scheme.

That effort barely spanned months.  Certainly not year.  And in fact, the serious portion of the process lasted only a couple of weeks.  On it’s face, this cursory examination is bad enough; allegations of a player seeking six-figures to be recruited got superficial treatment while instances of players selling personal possessions or being paid a slightly excessive hourly wage have been dissected into minute detail.

That alone is preposterous.

What makes matters worse is the the Auburn case resulted in no consequences of any kind despite the fact that NCAA agreed that violations had been committed.  Serious violations.

We recently learned that Auburn itself helped convince the NCAA that Newton should remain eligible.  The program lobbied so successfully that in spite of the gravity of the accusations, Newton was suspended for less than a day.

The NCAA was able to rule, conclusively, in 24 hours.

The Buckeyes have also tried to argue in their own defense.  Without the same success.  In fact, the schools attorney claims that NCAA willfully ignored evidence and says his paper trail can prove it.

Let’s put aside the results for just a moment.  Ohio State is guilty while Auburn was deemed innocent.  Fine.  The outcomes notwithstanding, surely we can all see the problem with the process.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of either school, there’s no debating that the two programs have receive radically different treatment at the hands of the NCAA.  But to whom can the Buckeyes complain?

When the judge, jury, and executioner (in this case, all the same entity) are as corrupt as the criminals, the system is lost.

Again, this isn’t sour grapes from an aggrieved fan.  Something is dreadfully wrong with the process itself, and that could impact any school at any time.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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