The Touchables

By Johnny Ginter on June 30, 2011 at 1:00p
Make sure when your shift is over you go home alive

The official Twitter account of the Ohio State Athletic Compliance Office has six hundred and thirty three followers, which I would bet dollars to doughnuts is several hundred more than they had roughly seven months ago.

Scandal does that; people want to get on the ground floor of whatever the topic of the day is, and right now Twitter is the easiest (and laziest) way to try and gobble up any juicy crumb of controversy that might fall from the horse's mouth.

Unfortunately those who took the plunge into the wild and crazy world that is the Twitter account of OSU Compliance were probably disappointed to find out that the vast majority of what is posted is less of the "OMG TP NOT AGAAAINNNNNNN smh" variety and more along the lines of "If Legislative Council doesn't change its decision, an override vote of the membership shall occur...but not at a Convention."

Some of it is actually fairly interesting stuff; OSU Compliance often details certain NCAA rules and bylaws, and if you want to get a greater understanding of the rules themselves, it's not a bad account to follow. In the wake of recent events one would expect that OSU's Compliance Office would know the rules inside and out. The thing is though, that's only about 25% of their job.

Which leads a number of people, including Board of Trustees member Robert Schottenstein, to think that they're not doing the other 75% as well as they should be.

Robert Schottenstein has been by far the most vocal of the Board of Trustees so far with regard to OSU football and NCAA compliance. From a June 23rd Lantern article:

"We believe we have very sound processes and protocols, many of them have been validated by third parties as being at or near best in class," Schottenstein said. "Still as I said, we believe we can get better." ..."We will be reviewing best practices and model programs not just within the academic arena that are at other institutions, but we will also be reviewing model compliance programs in the private sector as well as other non-profit organizations and as I said we will be accessing all aspects of our compliance programs within the university," Schottenstein said.

Part of the reason for that assessment is a growing concern that the Athletic Compliance Department has been too cozy with the Athletic Department. The Board of Trustees couldn't have been happy when it was publicized that an internal audit in November of 2010 showed that OSU Compliance wasn't monitoring the football program as closely as it should have been, or that Compliance Director Doug Archie drives a courtesy car from a Columbus dealership.

Schottenstein, chairman of the Audit and Compliance Comittee for OSU's Board of Trustees, wants to create a Compliance Office that oversees the medical center, research, and the athletic department. In an April meeting, he suggested that OSU would be engaging PricewaterhouseCooper for the contract to be OSU's external auditor (page 25). PwC is the second largest professional services company in the world (the first is the previous contract holder, Deloitte), and has seen its fair share of controversy.

Of course, PwC is a gigantic company and would likely have little to do with the process of educating student athletes about NCAA rules, enforcing them, and reporting any violations. But the larger point is that any kind of oversight, be it auditing the tax claims of a multi billion dollar Russian oil conglomerate or making sure that Tyler Moeller isn't given a free crunchwrap supreme at Taco Bell, becomes increasingly difficult to achieve if the means of enforcement is too large and unwieldy to do its job efficiently.

My fear is that if the OSU Athletic Compliance Office is absorbed into a larger office, the ability to monitor might actually become worse; instead of someone with a vested interest in OSU athletics trying to snuff out problems, you'd have someone with no real motivation at all. Internal Athletic Department audits might be given even less credence if they come from a faceless and distant "General Compliance Office."

Therefore to become the effective policing element that Schottenstein seems to want it to be, the OSU Athletic Compliance Office must retain some sense of autonomy within the greater sphere of OSU Compliance.  If OSU is serious about improving the way they monitor their Athletic Department they will need to allow it to have a (new) internal administrator, and people who can pull off the trick of both understanding how OSU athletics works while also being motivated enough to enforce the rules with an Eliot Ness like tenacity.

Gene Smith's best bro from high school football isn't the solution, but neither is Worker Drone #48928.


In 2005, Karen Holbrook asked then AD Andy Geiger to "...more closely align the athletic compliance office with the legal-affairs office to ensure its independence." In hindsight this was pretty smart on her part, but it also implies a protective stance toward OSU athletics rather than an investigative one. The thing is, neither stance is "wrong." When players are treated unfairly or accused wrongly, they need to know that OSU is on their side, and when violations do occur, OSU has to be willing and able to investigate vigorously.

For an Athletics Compliance Department, the two shouldn't be mutually exclusive, and hopefully a revamped compliance department can meet that goal.


Comments Show All Comments

Matt's picture

ASIDE: When I was an RA in my college days there was a Schottenstein kid in my building.  Huge douchebag.  Loud talker.  He made sure you knew he was a Schottenstein.  I recall him getting kicked out. 

theDuke's picture

I as well know a few Schottenstein's.  BIG TIMERS of douchebaggery.  I wouldn't mind if they moved to TN and bought up a million acres with Herbstreit.  "f" these people.  Not the folks I want to have a say in affairs of my beloved school and team.


btalbert25's picture

That's all fine and well, but I'm sure the university is much better off with their money than it would be without.  Sometimes you have to put up with D-bags for the greater good.  I know of charities that have been started and run by total D-bags who aren't very good human beings.  However, the work their organizations have done helps 1000's of people.  Sometimes, despite how horrible a person is, you put up with them because of the damage that would be done if their money was gone.

Denny's picture



SouthBayBuckeye's picture


Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Johnny Ginter's picture

"have you ever fired your guns in the air and gone 'aaaahhhh'?"

Orlando Buckeye's picture

+1gasm.  +1's all over the place.

NW Buckeye's picture

PwC would not be my choice to control anything to do with athletic compliance.  They may be outstanding at medical center and research matters, but the world of NCAA athletics is another beast entirely.  They are going to have to get their people up to snuff on things that they have never before even looked at much less understand.  There have to be many more smaller companies who would be able to do the job much better.  The trade off is that they don't carry the big name banner, but I would take a hungry up and coming company any day over any of the big 5 in the business. 

And, completely removing athletic compliance from the Athletic Department just does not make sense.  True, having them "just down the hall" can create a comraderee that draws criticism, but having an outside firm audit their actions would seem to be the best solution.  Also, it would seem that you could find a smaller firm that could do a better job specializing in NCAA compliance. 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i've been pushing the mob/police angle of college sports pretty hard lately, but they really need an internal affairs type mentaility with compliance. sports in general promote an atmosphere of circling the wagons when something goes wrong, and i think to have effective compliance you need to change the overall attitude of player, coaches, fans, and boosters. keeping compliance too close to all of that makes it ineffective, and too far away means that no one will cooperate. ever.

my personal wish is that a well respected guy from the past, like spielman or whoever, could come in and be like "look, this is ridiculous, it needs to change, we're doing it now." not too optimistic on that happening though

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Pardon my simplification of the whole compliance deelio, but until jock sniffers are kept away from these kids nothing will change.  They want to be associated with Buckeyes to compensate for their lost high school dreams (think Uncle Leo).  I have no idea how you can possibly stop these people unless you put a wall around campus and track players every move.

What I fail to understand is how the folks that offer or give kids things can sleep at night.  I love everything Buckeye.  Grew up that way.  I would never even think of giving a kid something on the sly.  I would never put the athletes or programs in a position to defend themselves against the NCAA.  The very thought makes me sick to my stomach.  These people are not Buckeyes, yet their actions lead to a great man getting fired and running a school through the mud so they can tell the other douche bags at the country club that they are 'insiders'.

But again, how do you stop it?  Until they are kept away and/or every kid says "no thanks",  I just don't see a solution.  It's enough to make me puke. 

btalbert25's picture

Isn't uncle Leo Seinfeld's uncle?   I think Uncle Rico is the one who could've won state if the coach would've put him in back in 85.  How much you wanna bet I can fire this pigskin of that mountain.

RBuck's picture

This is out of a story in USA Today:


On the New York-Los Angeles flight, the flight crew began questioning Noibi after two passengers "complained he had an odor," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

The flight crew noticed Noibi sitting in a seat that was supposed to be empty and asked for his boarding pass, the FBI said. Noibi showed a University of Michigan photo ID, the agency said.

Long live the southend.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

You are correct sir.  I got my uncles mixed up.