Judgment Day for Ohio State will arrive in the weeks after Friday's meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis. All signs point to light penalties for the school, despite the fact that its leaders seldom led, and the coach of its flagship program behaved counter to the high values he espoused.
It will be a surprise if the Buckeyes receive a bowl ban because they avoided a finding by NCAA investigators of lack of institutional control over the football program in the scandal that involved players receiving discounted tattoos and cash payments for football memorabilia.
Ethical flexibility is seemingly one of the requirements of leadership around college football. OSU president E. Gordon Gee, when not joking that he feared former coach Jim Tressel would dismiss him, was up to the challenge, as was athletic director Gene Smith.
Last December, the NCAA, after lobbying by OSU, Big Ten and Sugar Bowl officials, kept the five players in the scandal eligible for the Sugar Bowl game. The NCAA's rationale for carrying the players' suspensions into the 2011 season instead was that "the student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred."
In other words, with OSU's acquiescence, the NCAA threw the school's compliance staff under the bus.