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The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT Dec. 29, 2010

| December 29, 2010 8:00 PM

When it comes to the NCAA, there are times when I’m left scratching my head.

On Thursday afternoon, while hearing of the actions of a group of five Ohio State football players and being suspended for the start of the 2011 season — it left me to wonder.

Why not now?

THE GROUP, led by Ohio State starting quarterback Terelle Pryor, was caught selling memorabilia, including some championship rings and other trinkets from games.

While the matter may not be as serious as shaving points, when a player is ruled ineligible, why should they be allowed to play — let alone in one of the five big bowl games that the NCAA deems most important?

And following the bowl game, if Pryor and the rest of his teammates opt to jump into the NFL Draft, what’s stopping them?

Should any of them do that, they won’t have to suffer any penalties, nor will they have to worry about the Buckeyes getting out to a slow start next season.

To suspend a player is one thing, but when the NCAA has a chance to make them sit, and opts not to, the whole thing is suspicious.

In the case of Reggie Bush, it was just a rumor that he accepted improper benefits until the NCAA discovered that the school should have monitored the situation better — but eventually the University of Southern California removed items having to do with his Heisman Trophy season from its Hall of Fame.

Later, he had to give his Heisman back, leaving the 2005 season without a winner.

THEN AGAIN, when the NCAA makes all kinds of money off the television money from the Bowl Championship and its basketball tournament in March, it sounds about right.

If the Sugar Bowl wasn’t one of the five main bowl games, the chances of the Ohio State Five sitting out would likely increase, but that’s not the case.

In a BCS bowl game such as the Sugar, there is a lot at stake with the schools and conferences receiving a large amount of money to go toward improvment of campuses or other academic ventures.

But if a basketball player was found ineligible at the high school level, there’s a good chance that the athlete would be held out of games until becoming eligible again.

If both UNLV and Michigan had to destroy those images of their Final Four runs after the fact, then why should a team be allowed to use illegal players in a bowl game?

Whatever happens in the coming days the decisions will be left to the administration — which should do the right thing and not allow those athletes to compete in the Sugar Bowl.

IT SEEMS that whatever lesson the NCAA is trying to teach in this case is wrong.

Allowing a team to use an illegal player is wrong, no matter what the case is.

Or at least that’s what they’d like you to believe.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via e-mail at jelliott@cdapress.com

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