Carl Bialik (FiveThirtyEight’s lead writer for news): Sepp Blatter is stepping down as FIFA president. For the first time in 17 years, the global governing body of soccer will get new leadership. Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA’s audit committee, promised to work toward reforms. Blatter himself called for a “profound restructuring.”These are heady times for FIFA reformers. Many reformers in the past have proposed incremental changes like Scala’s, including term limits, robust anticorruption measures, transparency on executive pay and independent integrity checks. Lots of these suggestions probably are sensible and could improve governance, and they could have a better shot in the post-Blatter era.But let’s dream big, like the 24 teams contesting the FIFA Women’s World Cup starting this week. How would you change FIFA? Or if you could start it from scratch, what would it look like? I wrote last week about how one-country, one-vote lends itself to pork-barrel projects and corruption. What system would work better?Chadwick Matlin (senior editor): This, to me, feels like a governance/political science question as much as a sports one. What’s the best way for an organization to represent its people? And is it any different when it’s a diverse collection of nations instead of, say, one nation?Carl Bialik: Good question, Chad. It’s easier to say something is askew when Brazil, China and the U.S. have the same voting power as the Cayman Islands, the Seychelles and San Marino, than it is to figure out how best to apportion voting power.Neil Paine (senior sportswriter): Last week, Nate Silver wrote about what FIFA representation might look like if it was weighted more toward the nations more valuable to FIFA’s viewing audience. That’s one model of how to parcel out influence; I wonder what an alternative would be that doesn’t simultaneously fall into the same traps as the system in place under Blatter.Nate Silver (editor in chief): Even if you didn’t use an audience weighted toward the economic size of a country — and I can imagine all sorts of problems with doing that — you could at least use the unweighted audience numbers. Basically, how many soccer fans are there in each country? China ought to have way more voting power than Curacao.Chadwick Matlin: But more than Brazil?Carl Bialik: I’d also want to represent soccer players, because FIFA helps set rules and the tone for the global game. It might be time for FIFA to do another Big Count of its global players. Is there a way to also account for the untapped potential of countries to increase their interest in soccer? I worry that if we go by the sport’s current status worldwide we lock that in. The best part of Blatter’s reputation is what he did to grow the game worldwide, though I’m not sure that’s deserved.David Firestone (managing editor): Any global organization will have to deal with the same kinds of alliances, jealousies and resentments that a body like the U.N. does. The U.N. is hardly a great model for effectiveness, but since the stakes are much lower, a bicameral system like the Security Council/General Assembly probably still makes sense, giving extra weight to the big soccer powers. There would have to be far more transparency and outside monitoring than there is now, however.Allison McCann (visual journalist and former center midfielder for the Boston Breakers): But how do you award voting power to countries with two very different tiers of men’s and women’s programs? I’m thinking somewhere like Argentina, whose men’s teams finished second in the World Cup, but whose women’s team is not even at this year’s World Cup.Chadwick Matlin: Should women’s soccer and men’s soccer be represented by the same body? Has that been good for women’s soccer?Nate Silver: I’m fine with the notion that we aren’t counting past soccer success in allocating governing resources within FIFA. So, sure, China gets more power than Brazil — 1.4 billion people will do that for you. China has been one of the big failure stories under Blatter, really. The men’s team hasn’t improved at all, and the women’s team has regressed. And Allison, if we were using any women’s soccer-related indicators, it would heavily favor Europe, the Americas, Japan, etc. Unsurprisingly perhaps, countries that have better records for women’s rights and human rights in general have better women’s soccer teams.Allison McCann: Yeah, I was interested in that too, Nate. We looked briefly at the U.N. Gender Inequality Index to see how this held up; the biggest outlier was Brazil. By FiveThirtyEight Our sports podcast Hot Takedown discusses Blatter’s resignation and the women’s World Cup. Subscribe on iTunes. Carl Bialik: Better records for rights sounds like a pretty good criterion for deciding who gets to run things!David Firestone: And also transparency. Countries and soccer programs that don’t have a good record of opening their books and decision-making to the public should have a harder time getting into the central body of FIFA, whatever it turns out to be.Carl Bialik: Transparency is a real theme in past reform efforts — for instance, releasing compensation information. I wonder if those efforts stick once people who wanted Blatter out have stopped paying attention to what comes next. Blatter was a master at calling for reforms and transparency, commissioning outside studies and then watering them down or not releasing them.David Firestone: Good point, Carl. They never took the need for reform seriously in the past, but a knock on the door by the FBI seems to have changed things quickly. At a minimum, it seems like Blatter’s replacement should insist on outside directors and outside inspector-generals to ensure that transparency is real from now on. Instituting strict term limits for directors would eliminate the entrenched bureaucrats and ensure that a variety of countries get a chance at governing.Neil Paine: A lot of this also gets into the mission of FIFA as a whole. What should its purpose be beyond simply governing the sport itself — or is that inextricably political in nature because it’s an international organization?Carl Bialik: Someone needs to run the World Cups, right? If not FIFA, who? And with the kind of money involved, seems like politics is inevitable.Nate Silver: Well, we see how complicated this can get. Personally, I have a huge problem with the World Cup having been awarded to Qatar for its record on gay rights and women’s rights alone. (Along with like 12 other reasons.) But: should Western values prevail? Are they more “universal” than other values, by virtue of being more tolerant? I’m not arguing for relativism here — I love me my liberal, Western values — but I’m saying it gets complicated real fast.Neil Paine: The cynical devil’s advocate might ask whether the World Cup should exist at all in its current form, given the non-positive presence it’s been known to have on local economies. But that in and of itself is an argument that only countries with existing infrastructure should host World Cups, which tends to heavily favor developed (and Western) nations, which is also problematic.Chadwick Matlin: I think this Slackchat is setting a FiveThirtyEight record for the number of question marks being used — this stuff is extraordinarily complicated. Maybe the question isn’t, “How should FIFA be restructured to stop corruption?” It’s “Can FIFA be restructured to stop corruption?”Nate Silver: But here’s the thing. Whether or not the wealthier, high-population countries have de jure power within FIFA, they have a lot of de facto power. A lot of leverage. As we wrote last week, the OECD countries, plus Brazil and Argentina, could render the World Cup totally unprofitable and unwatchable if they staged an opposing tournament. And the smaller countries would probably want to sign on to the OECD World Cup if given the choice.Carl Bialik: Yeah, I think Nate’s piece answers the question of whether FIFA can be restructured — or started over from scratch. (Maybe this time with an English-based acronym, not a French one.) At the cost of adding another question mark to the record total: Nate, do you think your breakaway soccer organization would be better for the game? I guess it couldn’t be much more corrupt, so there’s that.Nate Silver: In a perfect world, I suppose, they’d leave FIFA, but everyone would rejoin them again under some new umbrella organization after four or eight years. To some extent, that puts us back at square one. You still need to figure out the rules of the new federation. But at least you’d rid FIFA of some of its corruption in the near-to-medium term.David Firestone: But at some point the smaller countries are going to have to accept that global soccer is about the game, not about economic development. It’s been depressing to see how many developing countries have seen these games as a step toward enrichment, which FIFA has eagerly fed.Nate Silver: It’s not at all clear that FIFA has helped those countries at all economically. Or in football, for that matter. I’ll have some more numbers on this in an article later, but Africa didn’t improve at all under Blatter’s tenure. Asia maybe got a bit worse, especially the larger Asian countries like China.David Firestone: You mean because the cash for smaller countries has been siphoned off by top officials?Nate Silver: It’s a little outside of my knowledge base to know how that money is being spent. But in theory, it’s supposed to help them develop their national soccer programs, and we haven’t seen much evidence of improvement on the pitch.Allison McCann: I’m with Nate. I think FIFA’s too ruined for restructuring or reorganizing — time to blow it up and start over.Oliver Roeder (senior writer): Yes, burn it to the ground. FIFA doesn’t really “govern the sport,” right? It doesn’t make the rules — that’s done by the International Football Association Board. UEFA runs the Champions League. The Premier League is its own self-governing corporation. FIFA exists for one thing: the World Cup. It has to pick the place and figure out how to draw team names out of pots. Those are important things to figure out, yes, but don’t seem like rocket science. Why not stick it in the U.N., as has been suggested, or in the Swiss government — they’re impartial, right? The discussion of bicameralism and proportional representation and so on seems of second-order concern. What it needs is oversight, not internal structural fine-tuning.Allison McCann: Step one: The new FIFA is run by a woman. I nominate the great Pia Sundhage from a neutral country like Sweden with strong interests in both the men’s and women’s programs. That’s all I have for a start, hah!Nate Silver: It looks like FIFA’s executive committee had, what, only two or three women?Carl Bialik: I think one full member. And she was the first when she was elected in 2013! I like Ollie’s point — maybe the sport doesn’t need a single governing body. In fact, maybe it really doesn’t have one. We’d still have to figure out how to divvy up the spoils from World Cups, but as Nate and David point out, that isn’t being divvied up so well now. The weaker countries aren’t getting that much better, and lots of the money appears to have ended up enriching soccer officials rather than expanding the game.Nate Silver: Here’s one reform that could help the up-and-coming countries: more teams in the World Cup finals. Forty instead of 32.Carl Bialik: Prince Ali, the runner-up to Blatter in last week’s election, called for 36. Forty sounds even better.When I was preparing for this chat — hey, we don’t just mouth off, really! — I asked Deborah Unger, a former journalist who works in media relations for Transparency International, to weigh in. TI had studied FIFA reform before. She reasonably replied, “I think this will take more than a few minutes. … I don’t think we have time to design a new FIFA this evening. Is your deadline really now?” It’s a reasonable question. I don’t think we’ll settle things with this chat, but on the other hand, if World Cup governance is going to dramatically improve, it should probably happen soon, when everyone is paying attention.Nate Silver: I’m not leaving the office until we’ve solved soccer’s global governance problems. In the meantime, can we agree about what toppings to get on this pizza? More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed UPDATE (Sept. 25, 12:10 p.m.): Swiss authorities announced Friday that they were opening a criminal investigation into the activities of Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA. In June, when the FIFA corruption scandal broke, some of FiveThirtyEight’s editors and writers wildly speculated about building a new organization to right the wrongs of the old. Here’s an edited transcript of the Slack conversation we held. Embed Code CORRECTION (June 3, 10 a.m.): An earlier version of this post referred incorrectly to a United Nations statistical measure. It is the Gender Inequality Index, not the Gender Equality Index.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was mandated to turn in several firearms last month in compliance to a domestic case involving his longtime girlfriend, Candace Williams, according to Justin Fenton and Jeff Zriebiec of the Baltimore Sun.“The guns were surrendered over to police pursuant to the court order, and they [Suggs and Williams] are resolving their issues,” Suggs’ attorney Warren Alperstein told the Sun Thursday. “All I can tell you is that he’s in rightful and lawful possession of the guns but turned them over pursuant to the requirements of the law.”Baltimore County Circuit Court records show that Suggs filed a custody complaint against Williams on Nov. 19. There was a report filed by Williams shortly afterwards, according to Alperstein. Baltimore County police were called to the home Suggs on Nov. 21, but no reports were taken.Alperstein expects for all domestic-related issues to be resolved in a court hearing to be held next week.The Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations, Kevin Byrne, said that the team is aware of Suggs’ off the field situation, but did not wish to release any comments on the matter. Suggs also chose not to comment.Charles E. Brooks, Williams’ attorney, also refused to comment when the Baltimore Sun reached him at his home Thursday night.Suggs and Williams have had a rocky relationship that dates back to 2009. Williams, who is the mother of Suggs two children and former fiancée, alleged in court documents in December 2009 that Suggs knocked her down and spilled bleach on her after an argument over game-day tickets.The detailed complaint alleged that Suggs threw a soap dispenser at her head, hit her in the chest with his hand, and held a bottle of bleach over her and their son.Williams filed a protective order against the Ravens veteran and was granted a temporary protective order, but she withdrew the order a month later in an attempt to reconcile. Suggs was not investigated or charged with a crime involving this incident.Suggs handing over the guns has come to light after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins last week after the two were going through domestic issues. He then proceeded to the Chiefs’ practice facility and committed suicide in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.Belcher was the legal handgun owner of the weapon used in the killings.Suggs will attempt to play this week against the Washington Redskins after tearing his right biceps in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He returned to the practice field Thursday and has vowed to continue to play through the injury in order to help the team clinch the AFC North title.
Kobe Bryant has recently broke his silence on Dwight Howard signing with the Houston Rockets. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Lakers star tweeted that he wishes Howard “the best,” but expressed that he’ll unfollow him on Twitter because he has become an enemy in the Western Conference.“I wish d12 the best honestly,” Bryant tweeted. “I just find it hard to follow players that wanna kick my team’s [butt].”After unfollowing Howard, Bryant went further with his repsonse to his former teammate leaving by posting a picture of himself and Pau Gasol on Instagram.Dwight Howard signed a 4-year $88 million contract with the Houston Rockets.
Carla Suarez Navarro must feel a little embarrassed right now. In the U.S. Open quarterfinals match, she lost against No. 1 seed Serena Williams 6-0, 6-0.Williams has been looking great so far at this year’s Open. If she can get two more wins she’ll be queen of the tournament again, her fifth title at the event and 17th major championship overall.Tuesday night, Williams left 18th seed Suarez Navarro of Spain scoreless. Williams won 53 of 71 points and dominated throughout the match. The first set only took 19 minutes and the rest of the match’s pace was set from there on.Williams will play China’s Li Na in Friday’s semifinals.
The NBA draft is a time for optimism, the launching pad for 60 pro careers full of aspirations of championships and star-making moments. In reality, though, only a couple will likely become stars; many more will become key role players, while others will barely sniff the league. Here are the biggest questions about those future careers — and the teams investing in them — that arose out of Thursday night’s proceedings:Who’s the best prospect — Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III … or somebody else?The Phoenix Suns didn’t surprise many fans and observers when they took Arizona’s Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick. Ayton had been at the top of the mock drafts for a long time, and he ranked as the best prospect in the draft according to ESPN’s resident scouting guru, Jonathan Givony. But Ayton doesn’t arrive in Phoenix without risk; his college defensive numbers in particular have drawn questions about whether he can have the kind of two-way impact today’s star big men are expected to provide.That’s one reason why, according to the draft projection model developed by ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Ayton wasn’t the best — or even the second-best — young player available Thursday night. The model, which accounts for scouting assessments but also statistics (including at the international and AAU levels) and combine measurements, thought both Marvin Bagley III (who went second overall to the Sacramento Kings) and Luka Doncic (who was picked third and traded to the Dallas Mavericks) had better NBA potential.In the case of Bagley, the difference largely came down to AAU numbers, where Ayton wasn’t nearly as impressive as his future Duke rival. Time will tell whether those numbers prove prescient — and all three could end up being stars. But the Suns are banking the franchise’s future on Ayton’s edge in the eye test, rather than Bagley’s superior track record in high school.Will Luka Doncic defy European worries?Despite being traded on draft night, Doncic is a rare talent, a young 6-foot-8 point guard prospect who averaged plenty of assists and shot better than 80 percent from the free throw line while playing against much older competition in Spain. Fairly or not, though, his selection at No. 3 overall comes with the baggage of European picks from years gone by. Since 2001, 10 European players1Meaning players who were born in Europe and didn’t play for an American college. This includes Enes Kanter, who signed with Kentucky but never played for them, though he did play a year of high school in the U.S. were taken with top-5 picks, and only two of them — Pau Gasol and Kristaps Porzingis — ended up becoming All-Stars. But with the third-highest All-Star probability (according to the ESPN Stats & Info projection model) of anyone in this class, Doncic is poised to break that trend.Can Jaren Jackson Jr. overcome his lack of star potential in Memphis?No. 4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. wasn’t a major scorer in college — he averaged only 10.9 points per game during his lone season at Michigan State — but he made up for it with amazing efficiency and tremendous defensive numbers. So it makes sense that the 6-foot-11 Jackson’s calling card in the pros projects to be his solid all-around game and versatility on defense. According to the ESPN Stats & Info model, Jackson has a 42 percent chance of being a starter-level player in the NBA and only a 10 percent chance of turning into a bust — both of which rank best among this entire class of prospects. The downside, though, is that Jackson has just an 8 percent probability of becoming an All-Star, lower than 16 of his peers. Is a low-risk, low-upside player a good choice at fourth in the draft? The Grizzlies will find out.Do the Hawks have a star — or a bust — in Trae Young?Newly minted Hawks guard Trae Young drew his share of Stephen Curry comparisons as a freshman at Oklahoma, thanks to a gaudy 27.4 points-per-game average and plenty of deep 3-point range. Certainly that parallel must be on the mind of Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk, who worked in Golden State’s front office while the team was building to historic levels of greatness with Curry leading the way, and on Thursday Atlanta traded Doncic to the Mavericks for Young and a future first-round pick. Young is one of the highest-upside players in the draft: He has roughly the same All-Star probability — 12 percent — as Ayton, according to the Stats & Info model, but he also comes with significant risk. If we isolate every player’s All-Star and bust probabilities and take the harmonic mean of the two numbers, Young carries the highest combination of those opposing possibilities: For a team that hasn’t had an All-NBA first team selection since Dominique Wilkins in 1986, the Hawks may have reeled in a rare superstar. But by giving up Doncic — another potential star — in the process, they’ve set themselves up for plenty of second-guessing if Young doesn’t pan out the way Atlanta hopes.Odds and EndsThe best value pick near the top of the draft was probably 6-foot-7 swingman Mikal Bridges (who was eventually traded to the Phoenix Suns) at No. 10. Bridges ranked fifth overall in the Stats & Info model, thanks to his combination of highly efficient offense and strong defensive indicators. … Falling to the No. 14 pick, Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. is one of the most intriguing potential steals in this draft as well. Before an injury plagued freshman season at Missouri, Porter was the No. 2 high school prospect in the country according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. Although Porter comes with durability concerns, former top prepsters do become NBA stars at a disproportionate rate. … As for first-round reaches, it’s hard to find one more glaring than the L.A. Clippers’ selection of Boston College guard Jerome Robinson at No. 13. Robinson ranked 59th overall in the Stats & Info model, with a 44 percent chance of being a bust. … The Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton had a great freshman season at Alabama, averaging 19.2 PPG, but the eighth overall pick was even better in AAU ball, grading out as the top prospect at that level in the Stats & Info model. … “Wingspan” is one of those tired draft buzzwords, but it has to be mentioned in the case of Mohamed Bamba, who was picked sixth by the Orlando Magic. Bamba’s 7-foot-10 wingspan was the longest of any player in NBA.com’s archive of draft-combine measurements (since 2001). … Some Knicks fans booed Kevin Knox after he was picked at No. 9 overall, particularly with the more exciting Porter still available, but Knox is far from a bad prospect. He had solid college and AAU stats, plus very impressive measurements at the NBA draft combine — with under 5 percent body fat and a 9-foot standing reach. … Looking for second-round sleepers? According to the Stats & Info model, USC guard De’Anthony Melton — who left the Trojans in February amid the school’s bribery scandal — could be a great upside pick by the Houston Rockets at No. 46, with a 10 percent chance of becoming an All-Star someday (which ranks seventh-best in this prospect class). Trae Young could be the next Curry … or the next washoutBiggest risk-reward picks of 2018′s draft class, according to a combination of predicted All-Star and bust probabilities Marvin Bagley IIIF/C196’11”Duke16.411.013.1 Jalen BrunsonPG226’2”Villanova8.036.813.1 De’Anthony MeltonG206’4”USC10.024.814.3 Mikal BridgesSF226’7”Villanova15.011.513.0 DeAndre AytonC207’0”Arizona12.015.113.4 Omari SpellmanPF216’9”Villanova7.936.913.1 Trae YoungPG206’2”Oklahoma11.9%23.1%15.7 Collin SextonPG206’2”Alabama10.521.114.0 PlayerPos.AgeHt.CollegeAll-StarBustBoom-Bust Index* Goga BitadzeC196’11”Georgia8.233.613.2 * Boom-Bust Index is the harmonic mean of a player’s probabilities of becoming an All-Star or a bust, according to the ESPN Stats & Information Group NBA draft projection model.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Mitchell RobinsonC207’1”—9.423.013.3 Probability of being …
OSU sophomore Nicolas Szerszen (9) prepares to spike the ball during a match against George Mason on Jan. 15. OSU won 3-0.Credit: Courtesy of OSUNicolas Szerszen, a sophomore on the Ohio State men’s volleyball team, was named offensive player of the week by the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association for the second straight week for the week of Jan. 18.The 6-foot-4 outside attacker has been dominating on the floor amid his team’s four-game win streak. In the Jan. 22 match against Coker, Szerszen finished with 21 attacks through in the match’s three sets with a hitting percentage of .333. He also scored 18 serving points, with a .944 serving percentage. Szerszen said it “definitely feels good” to get personal titles, but he stressed that his main focus is on the team.“If I can get titles and help them win is even better,” he said.His success, according to OSU coach Pete Hanson, comes from his growth this year compared to his freshman season. Despite starting all 30 games last season, with a year under his belt, Szerszen is beginning to hit his stride as a collegiate athlete.“What is happening with Nicolas is he is maturing,” Hanson said. “He is understanding what college volleyball is all about. He’s kind of figured it out.”Szerszen first started playing volleyball with his family when he was only 6 years old and started competing on a team around the age of 12. He has been actively partaking in his family’s love for volleyball ever since. In addition to suiting up for the Scarlet and Gray, Szerszen, whose hometown is Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France, is a member of his country’s national team pipeline. He had made his choice to cross the Atlantic and come to Columbus to play volleyball based on his sister. His sister suited up for the OSU women’s volleyball team when she was in college from 2006-2010. In addition to his successful year on the court, he was recently accepted to the mechanical engineering major at OSU.Szerszen said the university, from the sites he walks by on a daily basis to the place where he gives it his all for his volleyball team, already holds a special place in his heart.“I like St. John Arena because it’s the place I am when I’m doing what I like, but other than that I walk through The Oval almost every morning and I think it’s a unique place to this university,” Szerszen stated.The team’s next match is scheduled for Friday in Illinois against Quincy University. After that, the next home contest is slated for Thursday against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Jay Clouse and Michael Periatt contributed to this story. Ohio State has self-imposed a reduction of five total football scholarships over the next three years as part of the school and NCAA’s investigation into the overpayment of football players by former booster Robert DiGeronimo. The NCAA levied a “failure to monitor” allegation against the university as well. In a statement released Thursday, OSU announced the school and the NCAA have concluded their investigation into the matter. Failure to monitor cases are “usually limited in scope and do not involve the widespread inadequacies in rules-compliance systems and functions that are often found in lack-of-institutional-control cases,” according to the NCAA website. OSU president E. Gordon Gee met with athletic director Gene Smith to discuss the failure to monitor allegation. The Lantern obtained a copy of a memo Gee sent to Smith before the meeting, which said: “I am aware that you took certain actions and believed that you had appropriately distanced (DiGeronimo) from the program. However, the revelations about student employment and student involvement at the Cleveland-area charity gala, both involving Mr. DiGeronimo, indicate that those cautions were insufficient. The consequences were significant for student-athletes and this institution. “I am disappointed that this is where we find ourselves. You know I find this unacceptable.” “We look forward to working with the staff and the Committee on Infractions to reach a timely resolution of the case. On a personal note, I deeply regret that I did not ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. The NCAA still has not announced a ruling after its investigation into OSU, stemming from the Tattoo-gate scandal as well as players being overpaid by DiGeronimo. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said a timetable for that announcement still has not been set. She said the NCAA only sets a “general guideline” as to when a ruling can be expected, despite Smith stating in a press conference on Aug. 12 that he expected a ruling in eight to 12 weeks. “There are a number of factors that contribute to when the committee’s decision may be announced and because each case is unique, a specific timetable for each case is not provided,” she said in an email. Josephine Potuto, who previously served on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, wouldn’t comment on OSU’s case, but said the committee does consider the timing of the penalties it assesses. “Will the Committee on Infractions consider, in terms of certain penalties, where you are in the competitive season? The answer is yes,” Potuto said. “That doesn’t mean the committee has to do it to accommodate, but it will certainly think about when the penalties should take effect.” Regardless of when a potential penalty against OSU is administered, Potuto said that a failure to monitor designation carries considerable weight. “A (failure to monitor) penalty would obviously ramp up the penalties from what the case would be if it were the same penalties and there was no failure to monitor,” Potuto said. “Part of the reason it happened is because (a member institution) were asleep at the switch.” Student reaction to OSU’s preemptive measure of a scholarship reduction varies on campus. Joe Wilson, a second-year in chemical engineering, didn’t agree with the scholarship reduction. “I think that’s kind of garbage,” he said. “To cut five scholarships is hurting kids that weren’t a part of it at all. That’s punishing kids that aren’t really responsible.” Michael Tupa, a third-year in accounting, thinks OSU is doing the right thing in trying to limit penalties handed down by the NCAA. “I guess it’s good that it’s self-imposed so it shows the NCAA that they take it seriously,” he said. The NCAA suspended senior wide receiver DeVier Posey for five games, starting with the Oct. 8 game at Nebraska, for being paid for work he didn’t do by DiGeronimo. He will be eligible to return for the Nov. 19 game when OSU hosts Penn State. Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron and sophomore offensive lineman Marcus Hall, who were also employed by DiGeronimo, were suspended only for the game at Nebraska. Junior defensive lineman Melvin Fellows was also involved but is out with a career-ending injury, as well as senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, who was permitted to play so long as he repaid the $60 he was overpaid to a charitable organization. Four OSU football players — Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas — were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban. Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor had also received a five-game suspension before departing the university on June 7 to pursue a professional career.
For Ohio State and rest of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the 42nd and final CCHA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament will begin this weekend with first-round series at various campus sites. Western Michigan will look to defend its title, and the eventual champion will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Due to conference re-alignment across the college hockey landscape, the CCHA will disband at the end of postseason play. OSU is set to join the six-team Big Ten Ice Hockey Conference in its inaugural season. The fourth-place Buckeyes will enjoy a first-round bye as the field is narrowed from 11 teams to eight. OSU coach Mark Osiecki said the week off is nice to have with his squad’s recent injuries on the defensive end. Sophomore defenseman Al McLean and junior defenseman Curtis Gedig have missed a combined 10 games since Gedig left a contest against Notre Dame on Feb. 1 with a wrist injury. “It’s going to help us to have a week off to heal up, get (Gedig) a little bit more healthy, hopefully get Al McLean back, and see what we can do,” Osiecki said. OSU will return to action for a quarterfinal series with Ferris State on March 15. Game two will be played the following night, with game three on March 17 in the case of a split series. The winner will move on to play in the semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., on March 23. Due to the Schottenstein Center’s hosting of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Girls Basketball State Tournament, the Buckeyes will face off with the Bulldogs at the OSU Ice Rink instead of their usual home rink. Despite the limited size of the building, which seats only about 1,000 people compared to the Schottenstein Center’s 17,500 seats, OSU’s coaching staff and players said they are excited to play playoff hockey in Columbus in front of their own fans. “I think home ice certainly is going to help us. It’s going to be interesting playing at the (OSU) Ice Rink,” Osiecki said. Sophomore forward Tanner Fritz said the venue might offer some features the spacious Schottenstein Center does not. “The atmosphere there will be crazy. I think there’ll be a lot of buzz around campus. I think it’ll be a lot of fun for us,” Fritz said. Fritz will look to energize the crowd with his offensive production. The Alberta, Canada, native led the CCHA in conference scoring with 34 points. The February Warrior CCHA Player of the Month was gracious of the support his team offered him throughout the season. “It’s a great accomplishment. I just have to thank the coaches, my teammates and especially my line mates for helping,” Fritz said of winning the league’s final scoring title. Even with the conference’s most dangerous offensive threat, OSU associate head coach Steve Rohlik said the team must continue to improve in practice over the next two weeks. “It’s playoff hockey time, so we’ve certainly got to get better,” Rohlik said. The Buckeyes are seeking their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 after their best regular season since finishing second in the CCHA in 2005. Game one of the quarterfinal series is set to begin at 7:05 p.m. on March 15.
Ohio State redshirt junior running back Mike Weber (25) runs the ball in the second quarter of the game against Indiana on Oct. 6. Ohio State won 49-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorMike Weber entered his Ohio State career having to fill some big shoes.Earning the starting running back job in 2016, his redshirt freshman season, with the departure of Ezekiel Elliott, Weber was filling in for a back who ran for more than 1,800 yards in consecutive seasons and went No. 4 in the NFL Draft.Three seasons later, and Weber, now a redshirt junior, is following in his predecessor’s footsteps, forgoing his final season of eligibility for the 2019 NFL Draft following the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.But Weber will not leave the program the same way Elliott did before Weber ever played a snap.In Weber’s first season, he broke out for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns, enough to help Ohio State reach the College Football Playoff for the second time.A hamstring injury to begin his redshirt sophomore season was enough to permanently change the outlook for Weber’s collegiate career.Weber missed the opening game against Indiana in 2017, allowing then-freshman running back J.K. Dobbins to earn the start and make an impact.And make an impact he did.Dobbins ran for 181 yards in the victory on 29 carries, enough to earn him a sizable role in the offense for the rest of the season. In 2017, Weber only earned more carries than Dobbins once, rushing 18 times for 82 yards against Nebraska.The running back duo continued to split carries this season, with Dobbins entering the Rose Bowl at 223 carries, and Weber with 157.Dobbins said he’s had no issue with the strategy.“I am not a selfish person. I am a team player first,” Dobbins said. “Whatever the team needs to do to win a game, that’s what we’re going to do. If it’s him getting 30 carries and I get five, and if we win, im fine with it.”Now, splitting carries or not, Weber is a game away from the end of his Ohio State career, and, unless he has the second-highest rushing game of his season, recording 162 yards against Michigan State on Nov. 11, he will end short of 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight year.Weber said he still believes he hasn’t reached his full potential, and that his season did not go exactly as planned.“I felt it was OK. Decent. I did what I could with the opportunities I had, and I just want to finish strong,” Weber said. “You start it, got to finish it.”Having to finish what he started is why Weber will still be playing in the Rose Bowl instead of following in cornerback Denzel Ward’s footsteps from a season ago.Ward decided to forgo the Cotton Bowl to avoid injuries heading into the draft. Defensive end Nick Bosa did the same by deciding to pull the plug on his Ohio State career this season, a few weeks after he sustained an injury in the team’s third game of the season against TCU.Weber said in a tweet he has to finish what the team started this year, which includes a 12-1 record, a third-straight win against Michigan in Weber’s tenure and a Big Ten Championship, Weber’s second.But Weber has a chance to do something more: To finish his Ohio State career as the back it looked like he could have been his freshman season.With 142 yards, Weber can get the second 1,000-yard rushing season in his Ohio State career. With a big game in head coach Urban Meyer’s final game, Weber can prove he is worthy of a high-round pick in the NFL Draft.Weber said on Wednesday before he made his announcement he would leave for the NFL, he wants to send his head coach out win a victory.“That’s something that we take a lot of pride in,” Weber said. “I feel like he deserves it and so do we. So that’s the No. 1 goal.”Though Weber has not been able to top his Second Team All-Big Ten season, he has made his mark in the backfield for the Buckeyes.The redshirt junior heads into his final game with 2,580 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry or more every season. He leaves with a 32-5 record in games he played in and he leaves a back who has faced adversity and a split backfield over the past two seasons.Weber sees the Rose Bowl as just another opportunity. “Every day is an opportunity. I just have to take advantage of it,” Weber said.This time, it is Weber’s final opportunity to cement his legacy in an Ohio State uniform.
Peter Elliott’s ex-wife Leonie Butler at Carlisle Crown Court in June this yearCredit:North News & Pictures Ltd Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.