NDSU Has A Double Standard For Student Athletes

dean bresciani

Earlier this year, just as their football season began, news broke that about a dozen current NDSU football players (including several starters from last year’s championship team) were involved in massive signature fraud for two petitions to put a conservation measure and medicinal marijuana measure on the statewide ballot. Initially university officials claimed that they wouldn’t be punishing the football players at all, but after all the players plead guilty (and after even some of the staunchest of the university’s apologists got a little nervous) the university backtracked and said they were hasty in making that pronouncement.

Though, to date, the university is refusing to make public what punishment the student athletes received (I have an open records complaint pending with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office on that question).

My guess, since the university refuses to be transparent in the matter, is that the players didn’t get punished at all. A university system willing to create a separate, lower academic standard for football players isn’t about to risk a championship run by suspending them from a few games.

But what’s interesting is that, even as NDSU’s group of criminal football players charge toward another national championship, news has broken of a group of female students from NDSU’s softball program have been suspended for incidents stemming from a team party.

According to this report, the situation is serious enough to have been handed over to local prosecutors, note that suspensions and sanctions have already been handed down by the university before the students get their day in court.

When we were talking about students from the university’s all-important football program, officials claimed they couldn’t hand down punishment until the players got their day in court. Apparently that standard doesn’t apply to student athletes involved in a less important athletics program.

And note that NDSU has actually punished the softball players, and made news of the punishments public, unlike the football players when the university claimed that privacy policies prevented them from making news of the punishments public.

It’s good that NDSU is holding these softball players accountable for their actions, but it’s a blow to the integrity of the university’s leadership that they can’t apply that same standard to players in their premier sports program.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • kevindf

    Big education wouldn’t do anything wrong, would they?

  • Rick Olson

    Rob, unfortunately, this all comes down to prestige and money for North Dakota State University. Football is the primary money making athletic progrom at NDSU. Hands down. The other sports always take a back seat to the football program. Naturally, anything that happens relative to the NDSU football team is big news here.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Money-making athletic program?

      Hardly.

      The students subsidize the athletics programs at NDSU, to the tune of hundreds of dollars each per semester according to NCAA disclosures.

      These programs lose money.

    • kevindf

      The money flowing to ND’s education cabal is confiscated from those of us in the private sector.

    • Matthew Hawkins

      I would be very surprised if NDSU football made money. In 2009-2010 only 22 Division I teams made money.

      But that is besides the point. A university’s mission is not to make money, it is to transfer knowledge to the public. Treating student athletes better because they make money is antithetical to that mission and any university that forgets that should be ashamed of itself.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        I actually agree with this.

        • Matthew Hawkins

          Unfortunately I am a pretty big hypocrite on this. I grew up in Oklahoma and am a huge Sooner fan and I know they treat their athletes

          If this happened at OU they would have probably paid some other students to admit they did the crime.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            That’s a big problem here in ND. NDSU has an atrocious track record in terms AF academics, transparency, etc. Buy they have a great football, so if you criticize them the football bros come out of the woodwork.

  • Roy_Bean

    “…but it’s a blow to the integrity of the university’s leadership…”

    From Wikipedia:

    “Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.”

    The leadership of NDSU has never shown any indication that they have any “integrity” for this to be a blow to.

    • guest

      Agree. This is another example of how terrible a leader Mr. Bresciani is. I have serious reservations about how this man runs an institution. Ethics do not matter to him. He weasles his way out of trouble whenever he gets caught. He manipulates and deceives to get what he wants. What a terrible example this man is! Mr. Bresciani is overly concerned with his own greatness, which exists only in his mind.

  • RCND

    And nothing EVER happens to hold these people accountable. Nothing. But that is to be expected I guess when you have a Governor who calls corruption in Higher Ed a “distraction”, a Board and Chancellor who are complicit in it, an Attorney General who refuses to investigate and prosecute it (despite plenty of evidence provided by the State Auditor), and a legislature (plum full of educrats and those who love them) who will not use their power of legislation and of the purse to fix it. If you can get away with Big Corruption in the system because of that, the little corruption and gross double standards are easy.

    • igx

      “…nothing EVER happens to hold these people accountable.” The NCAA and everything associated with it is effectively a no account rouge zombie parasite monster on society. It needs to be killed.

  • kent

    The University and althetic department failed public relations 101. It was very Clintonsque in how they handled, deny, deny, deny and hope it goes away. And in reality it never did. The stigma is there because when something else comes up, in this case softball, the football team situation is brought. It should have been handled on the upfront, dealt with and moved on. To date in my opinion, it has not been addressed. I am an NDSU Grad, was at all the playoff games, have tickets for the championship, but in a respect feel the Coach, AD and administration handled it all wrong.

    • spud

      Yes they handled it wrong but that was there call. They took the PR nightmare and hopefully with the softball players this is how it will be handled from now on. But on this blog these students who happen to bring in alot of money for the college and entire Fargo area (three home playoff games) were tarred and feathered by Rob and others. How they have handled themselves since and there determination to get back to the championship game shows an attitude that should get them far with however there journey in life takes them. Courts have decided this issue and if players adhere to it all it will wiped out of there record which is what the legal system said would happen from get go. Criminal football players yes that works I guess for you but loser bloggers who get there issues voted down in large mandates have little room to use there platform to shove there views on others. Go Bison bring back that championship hardware back for yourselves because you have worked hard through use of your talent and determination to win it.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        They were “tarred and feathered” because they were guilty of a crime that reflected poorly on their character.

        • spud

          Yes Rob they are good at sports and yeah they went through the court system and had there punishment. They were admonished by all. You lost alot this year on issues that the citizens can bring up to a vote. To be honest you and most of your bloggers got smoked big time. They overcame everything as a team and deserve to enjoy this. And yeah it is a great time for the university officials which really is a flesh wound to you. Somehow these business people in Fargo are happy with the money that has flowed into town the past three week-ends. Please go out and order your Bison football gear embracing there bid to win a national title again No. 10 for all you Sioux lovers out there. Nothing says beautiful quite like a long sleeved gold shirt with the Bison green emblem mentioning the championship game to be played January 5th 2013 in Frisco, TX. All yours for $30.00. Great football, great capitalism, and of course Go Bison. I am sure sometime after January 5th they may have time for you. Not fun to be a guppy when there are bigger fish to fry.

          • kent

            Not tthat this is the point, but how much interest was there in the measures that got thrown out? I remember back the day there was political passion and volunteers would go out and get the signatures to get a measure put on the ballot, the fact that someone hired the team to get signatures and it just have been slow since they had to make up names makes me wonder what the interest would have been.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            The amount of money spent to collect signatures for the conservation measure alone makes me think that we maybe need to reform how that process works.

            These groups are buying their way around the legislative process.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I’m not sure what the ballot measures had to do with NDSU and their refusal to apply a consistent standard to their student athletes, not to mention the institution’s general lack of integrity.

          • guest

            That is Spud’s way of spinning the argument to deflect the facts. Spud cannot logically justify his argument against you, so he attacks you. That if very childish and unfortunate.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I agree, though not unusual in the forum of internet debate.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        But they’re good at football so of course people like you give them a pass.

      • guest

        Close-minded simple thinkers like you Spud hold NDSU back. Why can’t you accept reality? NDSU administrators screwed up royally with the football players. These young men committed horrible acts against the citizens of North Dakota. NDSU administrators put the football team’s chances of winning another national championship ahead of ethics and doing the right thing. They let time pass and pretend that everything is ok. Well it’s not. That is wrong in every sense of the word. NDSU administrators got caught attempting to cover up yet another scandal and simpletons like you Spud blame Rob and this blog for calling out the bs. Rob has the facts on his side with this issue. You my friend do not. So you demonize Rob and his blog for pointing out the double standard at NDSU? What planet do you live on Spud? NDSU’s actions relative to these football players and now with the softball players are not the same. It’s a double standard. It sends a horrible message. Now these football players will think they can do whatever they want once they enter the real world with no consequence because NDSU gave them a slap on the wrist for CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. Instead people like you Spud irrationally blame people like Rob for all the woes inflicted by NDSU administrators and how they handle unethical behavior at the school. Shame on you Spud.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          That’s exactly the message the football players have received.

          They can expect to be treated differently because they’re elite athletes.

  • Mike Peterson

    I love North Dakota football, but can’t get excited at all if the team sacrifices their own integrity in exchange for a championship. Nothing should be more important than just doing the right thing.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I agree Mike. I’m not much of a football fan – I’m a baseball guy myself – but I’d like to feel some pride in a North Dakota football team achieving national championships.

      It’s hard to feel pride when the football program is run without integrity.

      • Geoff

        The point you are missing and which was stated day one. The football player issue was non violent, drug related, or alcohol related which is the violation of team policies. The softball team: sounds like alcohol related and have owned up. Probably why they don’t need to hear the outcome from a day in court. Did the punishment fit the crime? Probably no, but I feel Bohl and administration were as transparent as they needed to be. Stop the witch hunt, they r going to Frisco like it or not. HAIL THE BISON!

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Transparent as they needed to be?

          They won’t tell us anything…about the football players.

          The softball players, of course, is a different matter. The bunch of hypocrites.

          • Geoff

            Why are you avoiding the real points. Football players: non violent, non drug related, non alcohol related. Answer that first then talk transparency.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            So as long as they didn’t rape anyone, or beat anyone up or get drunk it’s ok that they defrauded their employers? And the taxpayers?

            Get a clue, Geoff.

          • Geoff

            if this is such a serious crime, then you should shift your intentions to law enforcement. If they are not behind bars, leave ndsu alone. I am not defending the individual’s actions but if they did not break team rules as they are written, what more would you expect bohl/brescani/Taylor to do?

            Shift your anger toward the law. Get a clue, Rob

        • Jeff

          You are so correct Geoff. I mean really…forging THOUSANDS of signatures (perhaps even YOURS!) on documents intended to place issues that would either modify state statute and/or the State Constitution on a ballot is such a MINOR thing compared to drinking alcohol. Get real! Why can’t you just admit the actions of the football players were absolutely wrong, and the ONLY comparison that matters is…right from wrong. Rob is right on. And anyone who suggests forging signatures (especially to that extent!) is nothing of importance…is completely ignorant.

      • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

        It’s win at all cost at NDSU Rob.

  • Bad speller

    Where is the NCAA in all this.They need to come down on this program. Was the money paid back that these players where paid. If not it is a claer NCAA violation.

  • spud

    Congratulations to coach Craig Bohl the subdivision coach of the year being honored tonight.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      He’s a great football coach, no doubt about it.

      An ethical leader and good role model for the students when it comes to integrity?

      Not so much.

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