Experts Define, Dissect Issues Around Compliance in SSI Fall Showcase

October 5, 2019
Kevin Blackistone and David Ridpath

by Romi Azulay, SSI Editorial Intern

Nearly 100 people joined Ohio State’s Sports and Society Initiative for “Complying: Examining the rules and regulations that govern student athletics,” which featured two panels of individuals significantly involved in the world of compliance.

The first panel, explaining the intricacies of compliance, was moderated by Ohio State Assistant Director of Compliance Jamie Wood, and featured Ohio State compliance officials Matt Bartlebaugh and Kevan Donovan, Ohio State women's basketball legend athletic director at Dayton Public School Marscilla Packer and Ohio High School Athletic Association Director of Compliance Kristin Ronai.

Packer and Ronai elaborated on the challenges that they face on the high school level. “Some people may try to get away with things… we’re just trying to change the culture,” Packer said.

Bartlebaugh and Wood gave the valuable perspective as representatives of OSU’s compliance department. As both of them were former student athletes, they presented the transition from following the rules to regulating them.

Panel 1 Compliance

“I’ve learned so much… I have a much broader perspective,” Wood said. 

After a brief break, attendees were drawn back to the room to look at the darker side of compliance in a panel moderated by SSI Director Nicole Kraft that included Kevin Blackistone of University of Maryland, a Washington Post columnist and frequent ESPN guest; Dr. B. David Ridpath, associate professor of sports management at Ohio University and author of "Tainted Glory: Marshall University, The NCAA, and One Man’s Fight for Justice"; and Ricky Volante, chief executive officer of the Historical Basketball League.

Blackistone brought forward arguments and anecdotes regarding the relationship between compliance and our society’s morals. He proposed that college athletics needs a serious change.

“We need a brand new system, the wealth needs to be redistributed, and the athletes involved need to be paid a far better shake when it comes to their well-being,” Blackistone said. 

The conversation inevitably shifted to the recent progression of California’s law in regards to college athletes being paid for their name, image, and likeness. As the future is unclear as to how this situation will play out, the panel Had the opportunity to provide their individual stances.

Volante and Ridpath broke down the history of athletes competing without compensation.

Panel 2 Compliance

“The entire purpose of amateurism was exploitation and exclusion,” Volante said.

Blackistone added that perspective of how African-American students are disproportionately affected by amateurism.

“I would argue that this issue is a black male issue,” Blackistone said, while Ridpath added, “We should not have the right to profit off of these black male athletes.”

Bartlebaugh agreed with the sentiments but maintained the necessity of a governing body.

“Sometimes in our quest for improvement we begin to develop a preference for anarchy,” Bartlebaugh said.

Here are the complete videos of the event: