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Couch Slouch: Stanford and Ohio State take pains to make sure athletic revenues aren't hurting

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By Norman Chad Norman Chad
Monday, March 14, 2011

Item 1: Stanford athletes had an "easy-class list" to advise them how to fill out their quarterly course loads.

Item 2: Ohio State football Coach Jim Tressel failed to notify school officials when he found out some of his players had sold memorabilia in exchange for cash and tattoos.

What do Stanford and Ohio State have in common?

They are both institutions of higher earning that will do anything in their power not to upset the apple cart of athletic revenues.

On the one hand, we expect better of Stanford; on the other hand, we expect nothing less of Ohio State, a football factory whose president has all the academic standards of a bundt cake.

Stanford officials discontinued its easy-course list, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, after reporters began asking about it. It went like this: Reporters said, "We want to see the list." Stanford said, "We no longer have the list."

Among the "Courses of Interest" Stanford athletes were pushed toward: Social Dances of North America, Beginning Improvising and Interpersonal Relations.

Heck, if Beginning Improvising were offered when I was in school, I could've been a grad assistant when I was 8 years old. And Interpersonal Relations? My friend Vinnie used to teach a version of that class every Friday at the Varsity Grill; he called it "Picking Up Women in Bars Without a Job."

Sure, Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck threw 32 touchdown passes while maintaining a 3.5 GPA last season, but his football stats were goosed by playing Sacramento State and his academic stats were goosed by taking Introduction to Car Washing.

(When I went to the University of Maryland as a mistakenly aspiring sportswriter, there were dozens of well-known "gut courses." I took one of them - Sociology of the Soap Opera. The first day I walked in, I noticed fourth-fifths of the men's basketball team starting five was in attendance. I stopped going to practice to get quotes; I just caught up to them once a month when they came to class.)

(Of course, things are different now in College Park - higher academic standards, plus we've had the No. 1 competitive eating team in the nation 13 consecutive weeks!)

Up in Columbus, Ohio, Tressel walks on poisoned water. By NCAA standards, Tressel is a crook many times over. Also by NCAA standards, he is celebrated many times over.


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