Shameful: NDSU Officials Say There Will Be No Suspensions Over Massive Petition Fraud

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Earlier this week, as news about 10 current NDSU football players fraudulently submitting tens of thousands of petition signatures broke, the mantra from NDSU officials was that the players should “get their day in court” before any punishments were handed down.

That despite other NDSU football players, accused of less serious crimes, getting dismissed from the team immediately.

Now, just days later and before anyone got their “day in court” (but after the players admitted that they were guilty) NDSU officials are saying there won’t be any consequences for them.

That’s the stance athletics director Gene Taylor and football coach Craig Bohl are taking, and NDSU President Dean Bresciani is saying he won’t get involved.

“There are not going to be any suspensions,” Taylor emphatically said after the game. “These kids don’t deserve a suspension. I’m not going to suspend them and neither is Craig (head coach Craig Bohl). As far as we are concerned, it is over.”

This statement was made with NDSU President Dean Bresciani standing only a few feet away. Bresciani said he did not want to comment, saying he does not comment on inner-department matters.

This is outrageous. These players didn’t have some momentary lapse of judgment. They purposefully generated nearly 25,000 fraudulent petition signatures for two different measures, defrauding those who had hired them to collect the petitions, those who organized the committees supporting the measures, those who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise for those measures and the voters of North Dakota who now won’t get a chance to vote on these measures for at least another couple of years, if ever.

“What’s going to happen in court, in my opinion, is going to be a lot less than what people think,” Taylor said after today’s game in which the criminal players were allowed to play. “At the end of the day, these kids have been through enough.”

They haven’t been through anything, because the ethically bankrupt leadership at NDSU is letting them get away with it. They’ll certainly be convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor (just one step below a felony) and faces fines and, less probably, jail time. But they’ll be allowed to continue their athletic careers assured in the knowledge that being an elite athlete means they get held to a lower standard.

In an ideal world, the state’s political leadership would get involved and force a more just outcome (and perhaps question why Taylor, Bohl and others still have their jobs after this), but remember that this is the state that didn’t prosecute anyone after Dickinson State University handed out hundreds of fraudulent diplomas.

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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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