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Thursday, June 2, 2011
Bielema proactive after Ohio State mess

By Adam Rittenberg

Many college coaches view the Ohio State mess as an unfortunate situation, but also an opportunity to learn.

Some are being particularly proactive when it comes to their own programs.

Bret Bielema
Bret Bielema is taking exra steps to minimize the possibility of an Ohio State situation at Wisconsin.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema told reporters Wednesday that he had athletic department staffers check two tattoo parlors in Madison after the initial Ohio State violations came to light in December. Six Ohio State players were cited for violating NCAA rules by selling memorabilia items to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor. This week's Sports Illustrated report alleges at least 22 other current or former Ohio State players have engaged in memorabilia selling at tattoo parlors since 2002.
"I have certain people I can lean on within our athletic department to find out," Bielema said. "They went to the two main parlors … they are assured that everything was [OK] … It's definitely one of those things you want to look into."

Cars are another issue Bielema and Wisconsin's compliance staff try to monitor closely.
"If one of my kids gets a parking ticket, I know it the next day," he said. "We have forms that any vehicle they have, whether it be a car, whether it be a moped, they have to write it down. It's an NCAA compliance issue. That's never been in place anywhere else until I came here. I think there's so many checks and balances to ensure, hopefully, that things can't happen. Now, a kid could do it and we don't know about it. But you see a car sitting in the parking lot, a kid getting out of it, you know what's going on."

Wisconsin athletic director and former coach Barry Alvarez also weighed in on the impact the Ohio State case has had on the Big Ten. He acknowledged the obvious -- "It's absolutely not good for our league" -- and noted that the past two years have brought the league's two flagship programs into the spotlight for negative reasons.
"I think that it just makes everyone more alert that if it can happen to those high profile schools -- Michigan had never been on probation; if it can happen to them, it certainly can happen to us," Alvarez said. "I want to make sure that it doesn't."

Bielema's approach with the tattoo parlors seems like a good start. Coaches can't monitor dozens of players 24 hours a day, but they can try to head off potential problems before it's too late.