Ohio State football defensive end Chase Young’s four-game suspension has been dropped to two games, leaving the Heisman Trophy hopeful eligible to play in the team’s matchups against No. 9 Penn State and No. 14 Michigan. Ohio State announced the news on Nov. 13. The circumstances surrounding Young’s suspension mirror those of BYU forward Yoeli Childs, which the NCAA has refused to lessen.
Young received a four-game suspension for accepting improper benefits from a friend in the form of a loan that was used to buy airplane tickets for his girlfriend. Young’s girlfriend used the flights to attend the Rose Bowl game between Ohio State and Washington on Jan. 1.
According to ESPN, Young’s penalty was lessened because he repaid the borrowed loan and because Ohio State reported the infraction to the NCAA rather than keeping it hidden.
“I want to thank and express my sincere gratitude to university staff members who worked so diligently and expertly to learn and understand the facts, and then to report these facts to the NCAA as part of our request to have Chase reinstated,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a prepared statement.
During a press conference, Smith said that Young was “honest and he was forthright” during the reinstatement process — words that mirrored remarks made by BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe on Aug. 9.
On Aug. 9, BYU athletics reported that Childs would be suspended for the first nine games of the season for not complying with new rules instituted during the 2018-19 season in regards to declaring for the NBA draft.
Officials determined that Childs received improper benefits through costs related to a basketball trainer and travel expenses, while also signing an agent before filing paperwork required by the NCAA. Agents are permitted to cover certain expenses for their clients while preparing for the NBA draft, but the NCAA deemed some of the expenses impermissible.
Childs repaid the expenses in full along with interest once he realized they weren’t allowed under NCAA rules. Like Ohio State, BYU reported the issue to the NCAA.
Holmoe addressed Childs’ suspension in a BYU athletics press release dated Aug. 9. Smith’s wording was almost an exact replication of Holmoe’s statement as both men said the athletes were honest and forthright during their reinstatement processes.
“We are disappointed with the NCAA’s decision to withhold nine games of his senior season,” Holmoe said in the Aug. 9 press release. “Yoeli was honest and forthright throughout the reinstatement process.”
The similarities between the two situations are remarkable, as both Childs and Young repaid their debts and self-reported the respective infractions to the NCAA. The difference is that the NCAA lessened Young’s suspension, but not Childs’ suspension. With this ruling, the NCAA adds another question to the growing list of questions about inconsistency and unjust penalties.
There are plenty of allegations as to why the NCAA let Young off with an easier penalty than Childs, with perhaps the most reasonable of justifications being the size and stardom of Ohio State and Young. Young is currently in the Heisman race, and a Heisman win would make Young the first defensive recipient of the award since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.
The NCAA is historically known as an organization that places higher emphasis on revenue than it does players and institutions — the Young ruling shows this.
Young has already missed one game — a 73-14 blowout win for Ohio State. Young will also miss the upcoming Buckeyes game against Rutgers which like the previous game, will likely result in an Ohio State blowout.
By allowing Young to play in the games against No. 9 Penn State and No. 14 Michigan, especially given that Michigan is Ohio State’s biggest rival, the NCAA will make more money marketing Young’s name as a participant. This will also give Ohio State a better chance of making the College Football Playoff, which would bring in more revenue for the NCAA.
Both Ohio State and Michigan are in the top five of the College Football’s Most Valuable Teams list, so it is crucial that the best players are on the field for the rivalry matchup. This, in turn, will be crucial to keeping Ohio State happy as a top-revenue university and universal likeness.
In contrast, it is much easier for the NCAA to make an example out of BYU as the university does not have Ohio State’s level of fame. Suspending Childs may result in some revenue loss as BYU has a following that spreads coast to coast. However, it is unlikely the NCAA will face the same degree of liability for suspending Childs as his likeness isn’t nationally known, nor is BYU a perennial powerhouse.
BYU athletics has not yet responded to The Daily Universe’s request for a comment.