Update: As of 5:30 p.m. EST, the White House had removed the petition from its website.
A petition launched Sunday on the White House’s “We the People” Web page asks President Obama to wade into college football politics and veto NCAA sanctions against an unbeaten team. Despite going 11-0 so far, Ohio State University isn’t eligible for postseason bowl games and can’t play in the Jan. 7, 2013 national championship game in Miami, Fla.
The Buckeyes play their finale Saturday against perennial rival Michigan. A home win could make Ohio State the first team since the 1993 Auburn Tigers to be shut out of bowl games despite running the table during the regular season.
A series of upsets in college football during recent weeks has left Notre Dame with the only other unblemished record among major college football programs. So without the NCAA sanctions, a perfect Ohio State would be a shoe-in to play dfor the national title.
That’s what “Cody M” — the White House doesn’t provide last names — is hoping for with his petition to “Pardon The Ohio State Buckeyes from unjust NCAA sanctions preventing their rightful access to a BCS bowl game.” (RELATED: Top 10 ridiculous White House ‘We the People’ petitions)
“While a punishment for past indiscretions is to be expected,” the petition reads, “a bowl season ban is too harsh for a few young men trading memorabilia for tattoos and some change. The offending players and coach who covered it up are no longer part of the program.”
“Please exercise your executive power to pardon the NCAA’s excessive sanctions placed on The Ohio State Buckeyes to enable a rightful, satisfying culmination to the college football season for the American people.”
Those sanctions, handed down last year, resulted from a scandal that developed under former head coach Jim Tressel. Players, the NCAA determined, were trading football memorabilia for cash and tattoos in a shop whose owner was the subject of a drug-dealing investigation.
The coach claimed he remained silent about the players’ cash grabs to avoid impeding that federal investigation, but neither the NCAA nor Ohio State University administrators found his claims believable.
There’s no reason to believe President Obama could overrule the NCAA, but a nod from the White House in favor of rewarding the team for its achievements since Tressel departed in disgrace would boost the hopes of frustrated Ohio State fans.
The White House did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. (RELATED: White House petition for Obama impeachment tops 28,000 signatures)
If Ohio State beats Michigan on Saturday, the team could still capture the annual championship awarded by the Associated Press, which doesn’t take NCAA sanctions into account when compiling its rankings. But the all-important Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which decides the official champion, is a different story.
The petition had more than 1,500 signatures at noon EST Monday, a number that was climbing at a rate of more then 1,000 per hour. The White House has promised to review and respond to petitions that receive at least 25,000 signatures, but there’s no indication the Obama administration would respond in time to affect the final BCS rankings which will be published Dec. 2.
Fewer than a dozen were from football fans who identified themselves as residents of Michigan — or as Ohio State students refer to it, “that place up North.”