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WHERE'S THE LINE?
Andy Staples
March 07, 2011
When a coach has to decide whether to take a chance on a player who has been in trouble with the law, he has to size up the offense and the offender and rely on his own moral code—or a gut feeling
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March 07, 2011

Where's The Line?

When a coach has to decide whether to take a chance on a player who has been in trouble with the law, he has to size up the offense and the offender and rely on his own moral code—or a gut feeling

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Ohio State's Jim Tressel is not one of those coaches. Tressel has won enough games to ensure his job security for years. But last month, he found himself in the same position as many of his colleagues as he weighed the pros and cons of signing a player with a rap sheet. A day before National Signing Day, Chris Carter, a lineman at Cleveland's John F. Kennedy High who had verbally committed to the Buckeyes, was arrested and accused of fondling a classmate under the guise of measuring her for an ROTC uniform. The Cleveland prosecutor's office investigated and did not find enough evidence to charge Carter with a crime, but Ohio State put Carter's scholarship offer on hold.

In January, Tressel spoke of the due diligence he and his coaches do before offering a scholarship to a recruit. "We try to spend a lot of time with the coaches, obviously, the guidance counselors, the principals," Tressel said. "Even sneak back and see the cafeteria worker, and you know, just see what type of manners [a recruit has] and so forth."

After Carter was cleared by the prosecutor, Tressel had to make the kind of decision coaches around the country make every year. He had to weigh what he learned about Carter during the recruiting process against the accusations on Carter's arrest report. Only then could Tressel decide on which side of his line Carter fell. Twenty-three days after Carter's arrest, Ohio State accepted his letter of intent.

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