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Original Issue


Jock Culture
So Ohio State is The Program (March 5)? Try looking south to Gainesville, whereFlorida is the first Division I school to win men's basketball and footballnational titles in the same year. The Buckeyes can have the big money; theGators will take the championships. As for OSU's school spirit: It will need itwhen it gets bounced from the NCAA tournament.
Tim Farrell, Dorchester, Mass.

As a recent OhioState graduate, I experienced the highs and the lows of the athleticdepartment, from the national championship in football to the men's basketballteam's infractions. I appreciate the in-depth story about all the pieces thatmake up the Ohio State athletic family. Athletic director Gene Smith has done afantastic job for the university, the city of Columbus, the state of Ohio andthe millions of fans who make up Buckeye Nation!
Christopher Thomson, Dublin, Ohio

Since 2002 OhioState's athletic department has had to fire a men's basketball coach for givingmoney to a player, suspend its starting quarterback for two games for takingmoney from a booster and fight off allegations from a former running back thathe received cash and other illegal benefits while enrolled at the university.Your cover should have included one other title for Ohio State's athleticdepartment: BIG CHEATERS.
Jerry Butcher, Wilmington, Ohio

How is it thatMichigan makes a profit of $17.5 million on revenues of $85.5 million and OhioState makes a profit of only $2.9 million on revenues of $104.7 million? Isthis any way to run a "business"?
Randall M. Baum, Hillsborough, Calif.

If one of GeneSmith's duties is to protect Ohio State's integrity, he should start with GregOden's "academic" schedule. Sociology 101, History of Rock and Roll andbasketball for an unbelievable 12 credits would be laughable if it were not sosad.
Bill McCann, Johnstown, Pa.

Since tuition cancost $20,000 or more per year and regular students can take as long as 30 yearsto repay their student loans, I believe that scholarship athletes are very wellcompensated simply by being relieved of this burden. Can you please forward thetuition bills of Hillary Klimowicz, the Division III basketball player youprofiled, to wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (and throw in my student loanpayments for good measure) to remind him how much he was "exploited"and how little he received from the Ohio State University?
Jeffrey Hanten, Germantown, Md.

After readingabout former Missouri receiver Sean Coffey and his academic struggles, I satback and thought about one thing: How could he quit on himself and his futurejust three credits shy of a degree? Anybody with a real commitment to himselfwould find a way to grind it out through those last three credits. If he couldplay with pain, then he should be able to suck it up and make it through oneclass.
Trent Satchfield, Southaven, Miss.

In your Athlete'sBill of Rights, I'd like to add a corollary to Article Two, which says thatathletes be given ironclad, five-year scholarships, regardless of performance.How about adding that any athlete who bolts early for the pros must pay apenalty of $1 million to an NCAA scholarship fund? If you're going to make ascholarship ironclad for the benefit of the student-athlete (something Iwholeheartedly approve of), you must also penalize any party that breaks thedeal.
Cannon C. Alsobrook, Alpharetta, Ga.

While the successof Ohio State's football and basketball teams financially supports the rest ofits athletic department, there are dozens of athletic departments at smalleruniversities that are destitute thanks to so-called "revenue" sports.These smaller schools lose millions of dollars each year trying to keep up withthe Ohio States of the world, and often it is at the expense of nonrevenuesports. Ohio University's football program recently went to its first bowl gamein 38 years, but the athletic department still found itself in a $4 millionhole. Instead of cutting football expenses, the school axed the women'slacrosse, men's swimming and men's track programs, which ended the careers of87 student-athletes and resulted in a savings of only $685,000. The bigbusiness of college football may be a windfall for a handful of schools, butfar more often it destroys the careers of true student-athletes.
David Houchens, Columbus, Ohio

Mighty Quinn?
I cracked up when Brady Quinn (Me First! No, Me! March 5) said he thought hewas superbly prepared because at Notre Dame he had been "getting everyteam's best shot." Apparently, the best shots of the likes of Navy, Purdueand Stanford somehow prepare a quarterback better than the fast, relentless,stingy defenses that LSU's JaMarcus Russell faced in the SEC.
Divad Nedrad, Burlington, Vt.

Dennis Johnson
I was the director of public relations for the La Crosse (Wis.) Bobcats of theCBA during the 1999--2000 season when the team was coached by Dennis Johnson(PLAYERS, March 5). His smile and laugh and the way he treated the staff willalways be remembered. Whether he was buying lunch for everyone or sending alimousine to pick up the entire staff for one of his first games as an NBAassistant (his Los Angeles Clippers were playing at Minnesota), he alwaysthought of others first.
Chris Zills, West Bend, Wis.

Pay for Play
I'm all for equal pay for men and women—for equal work (PLAYERS, March 5).Amélie Mauresmo should be grateful that she received 95% of Roger Federer'spaycheck for winning Wimbledon in 2006, since she played only 70% as many gamesas Federer (142 to 202).
Jack McManemin, Salt Lake City

It should havebeen pointed out that simple economics dictate the ceiling on salaries in eachleague, male and female. As in any successful business, you can only allot acertain percentage of your revenue for salaries. Wimbledon did the right thingin equalizing the payouts to both sexes simply because the women's gamegenerates as much revenue as the men's game.
John Lanteri, Middlebury, Conn.

In the Cosmos
An ad showing a centerfold of Burt Reynolds naked in the middle of the 2007Swimsuit Issue? That's not helping the morale of the troops over here!
Fred Lora, Tikrit, Iraq

Dangerous Game
The Predators are taking a chance letting Peter Forsberg play Ping-Pong in thelocker room (LINEUP, March 5). Given Forsberg's injury history, I hope thatTomas Vokoun takes it easy on him.
William Gabel, Crofton, Md.

Giving a Hand
Thanks for the item on the match between Mike Benefiel and Jordan Blanton, twowrestlers with undefeated streaks of more than 100, in the Illinois statechampionships (HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS, March 5). There was one detail you leftout: As time began to expire in the match, Blanton, realizing he couldn't win,raised Benefiel's arm in victory. The respect these two warriors showed foreach other is the definition of sportsmanship.
John Buckley, Crystal Lake, Ill.

Sean Cronk
The day after my five-year-old son Tommy's first basketball game, I wasprivileged to read your article about Sean Cronk (LIFE OF REILLY, March 5).Like Sean's mom, I too sat in the stands, a jangle of nerves, waiting to watchmy son take the floor. Like Sean, Tommy also has cerebral palsy—and a lot ofheart. He made his way from one side of the court to the other, not with a lotof style but with a huge smile on his face. Thank you, Mr. Reilly, for sharingstories that really make a difference in the lives of your readers.
Megan Shaffer, Troy, Mich.

If my fellowHoosier Larry Bird can't come up with an autographed Celtics jersey for Sean,then I will gladly donate my beloved autographed number 33.
Jerry Davis, Floyds Knobs, Ind.

Someone shouldsend Reilly's column on Sean's free throw shooting to Shaquille O'Neal.
Richard Petrow, Sebastopol, Calif.

I teach a collegecourse called Disabilities in Society, and I try to impart the idea that peoplewith disabilities want to be treated not as special, not as poster boys forsympathy but just as ordinary people with ordinary desires. On Monday the kidsin my class will be reading Reilly's piece as an example of what happens whenpeople get a chance to do what we all want to do—participate in life.
Joseph A. Panza, Associate Professor
Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven, Conn.

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Handling theTruth
To all of those who may criticize Ohio State, I direct them to Col. NathanJessep (Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men):

"Son, we livein a world that has networks, and those networks need teams that have talentand fans. Who's gonna help them? You, A&M? You, Heidelberg? We have agreater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for thestudent-athlete, and you curse the money in sports. You have that luxury. Youhave the luxury of not knowing what we know: that the student-athlete's death,while tragic, probably saved colleges. And our existence, while grotesque andincomprehensible to you, saves colleges. You don't want the truth because deepdown in places you don't talk about at parties, you want us on TV, you need uson TV. We use words like scholarship, ad revenue, gate receipts. We use thesewords as the backbone of a life spent creating something. You use them as apunch line. We have neither the time nor the inclination to explain ourselvesto people who rise and sleep under the blanket of the very entertainment thatwe provide and then question the manner in which we provide it. We would ratheryou just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, we suggest you pick upa ticket puncher and stand a post. Either way, we don't give a damn what youthink you are entitled to."
John H. Schaeffer, Ohio State class of '86
Wooster, Ohio


Face Time
We all know what Rick Reilly looks like. How about a picture of Sean Cronk(LIFE OF REILLY, March 5)?
Jack Meusey, Minneapolis








BITTERSWEET Cronk's and Everett's season ended in their playoff opener.