NCAA Sacks Star Defensive End’s Heisman Hopes

Photo Credit: Sporting News/ Zac Al-Khateeb

One of the biggest storylines heading into the College Football Playoff race centers around Chase Young, a player who was ineligible for two games. Chase Young, the potential first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, was in the Heisman Trophy discussion as his dominant play helped the Ohio State Buckeyes obtain the No. 2 ranking in the AP Top 25.

Fortunately for Ohio State, the team did not struggle without Young, as they beat Maryland 73-14 and Rutgers 56-21, in what many analysts thought was a message to the NCAA following the suspension. Young was set to miss 4 games when the suspension originally came down, however after an appeal it was reduced to 2 games. As a result, Young will be back for Ohio State’s primetime matchup against Penn State.

Photo Credit: Heavy/Jonathon Abrams

According to Andy Rittenberg of ESPN, Young reportedly accepted a loan to help pay for his girlfriend to fly to watch him play in the Rose Bowl last season. However, the name of the family friend and the amount of money involved has not been revealed. Although, Young has made it clear to the NCAA that he repaid the loan in full.

The NCAA originally suspended Young for four games by citing the gift/loan provision of the NCAA By-Laws. Bylaw is the general provision which governs gifts/loans and it provides that “[A] Receipt of a benefit (including otherwise prohibited extra benefits per Bylaw 16.11.2) by student-athletes, their family members or friends is not a violation of NCAA rules if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students and their family members or friends.”

To avoid any discipline, Ohio State was required to prove Young did not violate rule, which it was unable to do. Simply put, the relationship must have existed prior to Young’s recruitment by Ohio State and the money may not have been provided as a benefit for Young’s athletic abilities.

Ohio State learned of the potential violation after Young’s standout performance against Wisconsin on Oct. 26. When asked if the school thought about covering up the incident, Ohio State’s Athletic Director Gene Smith replied, “We never cover anything up. We’re never going to do that. My 34 years of doing this business, I’ve never even thought about doing that.” Further, Gene Smith denied rumors that a rival Big Ten team reported the violation to the NCAA.

Photo Credit: Sporting News/ Zac Al-Khateeb

Following the news of the suspension, Ohio State gathered information from Young and his family in order to file an appeal with the NCAA. As a result of the existing facts, Young’s truthfulness, and Ohio State’s transparency, the NCAA reduced the suspension from four to two games. Although this did not impact Ohio State’s record, it almost certainly ended Young’s chances at the Hesiman trophy.

As reported by ESPN, Young has 13.5 sacks this season, which is one-half sack shy of Ohio State’s single-season record. Additionally, ESPN’s draft guru, Mel Kiper, ranks the Ohio State standout as No. 1 on his Big Board for the 2020 NFL draft and lists the junior as his top defensive prospect. Despite all of these accolades, the NCAA rules effectively ended Young’s chance to be the second defensive player ever to win the historic Heisman trophy.

The NCAA recently made headlines when their Board of Governors unanimously voted to permit student athletes to compensate them for the use their name, image, and likeness. However, this shift in the NCAA landscape, set to take place by 2021, will not provide much freedom to student athletes attempting to be compensated. Specifically, the athletes will be “permitted” to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, but there is no guarantee they will receive compensation for it. Although the NCAA wants to treat college athletes like amateurs, rather than professionals, this notion is simply not accurate. Any non-student athlete would be permitted to take a personal loan out, use it for any legal purpose they may need it for, and then repay it. However, Chase Young did exactly that and was turned into a national storyline, suspended two games, and lost out on a chance at the Heisman Trophy.

Simply put, a historic player that fans want to watch will be sidelined for two games of his short college career for accepting and repaying a loan, so his girlfriend could watch him play in the Rose Bowl. In other words, the NIL legislation was a small victory for college athletes, however there is still a long road ahead before student athletes are actually allowed to be fairly compensated for their abilities. In the interim, this situation has made the current NCAA landscape clear — players, whether they think it is fair or not, need to air on the side of caution and if there is a possible violation schools need to be as transparent as possible. I think I speak for everyone when I say that hopefully the best players in the nation will be on the field, rather than the sideline, when the College Football Playoffs begin.

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