NCAA Bans Ohio State From 2012 Bowl, Blacklists Jim Tressel

The great Buckeyes tattoos investigation has finally wound down, with the NCAA adding to Ohio State's self-imposed punishments and giving Jim Tressel a five-year show-cause penalty.

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Gene Smith Says Ohio State Has More NCAA Violations Pending

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says the Buckeyes have 12 pending NCAA violations, though that number may be lower, a spokesman told The Lantern. Smith said the violations are in addition to those reported a week ago, released to the public as part of a large records dump.

The revelation may be surprising, but Smith maintained it's fairly normal for a large college athletics program.

"On an annual basis, we have about 40 (violations)," Smith said during the Tuesday interview. "It ranges in that area we're sitting at. In that 40 range is where we always hang.

"Our whole thing is if we have 10 (violations), I'd have a problem. I mean, I really would, because people are going to make mistakes. And that means if I only have 10 out of 350 employees (and) 1,000 athletes - something's not right."

Those quotes may appear to be shocking, but they're really not. We're talking about the entire athletic department, and violations that may range from butt-dialing a recruit or a slip of the tongue to more serious problems. It's unclear where these additional violations fall and Smith was unsure whether they'd be classified as secondary, or less serious, or primary.

It's also unclear which sports the violations are related to. While they may be concerning considering Ohio State's present state, these latest reported violations, whatever they are, fall under the "wait and see" category.

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Ohio State Recruiting: How Will NCAA Scholarship Reductions Impact Urban Meyer's First Class?

With today's news that the NCAA rejected Ohio State's proposed penalties and imposed a scholarship reduction almost double that of what the Buckeye's submitted, many Ohio State fans will wonder how this will impact Ohio State's recruiting. And this is an important question, as Ohio State has been on an absolute tear lately on the recruiting trail. Meyer has catapulted Ohio State's class from decent to excellent, with the additions of defensive linemen Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt. 

The new penalty is as follows:

Reduction of football scholarships from 85 to 82 for each of the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. This is an increase from the university’s proposal of five initial scholarships spread over three academic years.

The reduction in scholarships doesn't necessarily mean that the Buckeyes must take a smaller class. Remember, the NCAA isn't limiting the size of the recruiting class. It is only limiting the total number of scholarship players the Buckeyes may have on their roster come August. In fact, Ohio State could still take the class it planned to take; it would just need to get rid of more upperclassmen. 

That's an idea decried by many Big Ten fans, but the Buckeyes can probably get away with it under the guise that the jettisoned players didn't fit Urban Meyer's system. 

It will be tougher, however, to work around the numbers in 2013 and 2014, when Meyer's kids are already somewhat in place. 

Ohio State experts are also interested in how recruits react to the news that Ohio State did receive a bowl ban -- something Meyer had promised kids would not happen. A recruit may look at Meyer's statement and the truth and conclude that Meyer cannot be trusted, or it might not matter to him at all.

The actual bowl ban, however, isn't likely to impact recruiting in any way. Most kids realize they wouldn't be playing a major role on the team in year one. This is a different scenario than a multi-year bowl ban, the likes of which was dealt to USC.

If Meyer can convince recruits that what the NCAA did was totally unexpected, and Ohio State's administration is OK with allowing Meyer to run off more kids than previously planned, the Buckeyes should have no problem rolling right along on the recruiting trail. 

For more on Ohio State recruiting, visit Along The Olentangy.

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Ohio State Banned From 2012 Bowl, Jim Tressel Hit With Show-Cause, According To Report

The NCAA hasn't yet made official the punishments the Ohio St. Buckeyes will face for the great TattooGate scandal, the scandal that has seemed less and less outrageous as actual scandals have emerged all over the place. A few moments before the decree, the Columbus Dispatch broke media embargo ranks to report the NCAA will tack onto Ohio State's self-imposed sanctions the following:

  • One-year postseason ban, which forbids a bowl trip, Big Ten Championship Game appearance, Big Ten title or national title.
  • Nine scholarships lost over the next three years. Ohio State had recommended five scholarships.
  • Three years of probation -- if any violations occur during this period, heavier punishments will follow. Ohio State had recommended two years.

Really not all that cataclysmic, but a decisive escalation from what Columbus had hoped for. USC has thrived despite a postseason ban, and Urban Meyer's recruiting dominance should allow Ohio State to do the same.

The worst of it reportedly goes to former coach Jim Tressel, who now has that expected show-cause penalty hanging over his head. That means any school that wants to hire Tressel must take it up with the NCAA for approval or else risk violations of its own.

For more, visit Ohio State blog Along The Olentangy and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.

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Three Ohio State Players Suspended For Mid-Suspension Summer Jobs

Ohio St. Buckeyes players Daniel Herron and DeVier Posey were expected to return from their five-game suspensions to play against the Nebraska Cornhuskers this Saturday. That probably won't be happening, athletic director Gene Smith announced Monday, as the two, along with offensive lineman Marcus Hall, will likely miss further time for being too well-compensated by their summer employers.

Smith insisted Ohio State doesn't have an ongoing compliance problem, but ... well, here's an Ohio State fan on that sentiment:

When players already suspended for taking impermissible benefits continue taking them you lack institutional control. Sorry, beloved school.
Oct 03 via TwittelatorFavoriteRetweetReply

Smith noted the booster who overpaid the three players has been "disassociated."

Herron led the Buckeyes in rushing yards last year, while Posey is the team's top returning wide receiver, assuming he actually returns at some point. 

For more, visit Ohio State blog Along The Olentangy and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.

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Ohio State NCAA Investigation: One Of 'Tattoo Five' Has Eligibility Concerns

Hello there! When last we'd talked, the world was under the impression DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Daniel Herron and Mike Adams would be set to return for the Ohio St. Buckeyes this weekend against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. You'll recall the four were suspended, along with a former coach and teammate, for five games that didn't include the game immediately following the suspension itself.

Now it sounds like one of those players might not make it back onto the field just yet:

Larry James, who represents tailback Daniel Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas, told The Associated Press that "probably we're talking about potentially one player as we speak that there's an issue around. But that's not finalized."    

Athletic director Gene Smith has called for a Monday news conference, at which very little will be discussed and discovered, probably.

For more, visit Ohio State blog Along The Olentangy and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.

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Ohio State Wraps NCAA Hearing In Indianapolis; Jim Tressel Issues Apology

The Ohio State University administration and now-former head coach have wrapped their NCAA heading in Indianapolis after less than four hours, lending credence to the theory that there aren't too many surprises coming down the pike when the Committee on Infractions issues its ruling against the Buckeyes in two to three months.

That doesn't mean, whatever Gene Smith burbled this afternoon, that there aren't still surprises to be had. The amended notice of allegations delivered to Ohio State in July leaves the possibility of the dreaded LOIC or FTM charges very much out in the open.

In the meantime, we keep vigil for football (20 days!), read rapt descriptions of the NCAA hearing rooms, and parse over what's left. Today's flotsam: The Buckeyes will be returning their share of Sugar Bowl loot. Jim Tressel is getting pretty good at giving apologiesfinally. And the world spins madly on. September, hurry up, would you?

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Ohio State Vacates 2010 Season, Including Sugar Bowl Victory, In Hopes Of Appeasing NCAA

Ohio State University won't officially release their response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations until Monday, but staffers at the Columbus Dispatch, who have been doggedly pursuing this case end to end, has gotten hold of the report and published its pertinent details. The university's plan, apparently, is to throw the departed Jim Tressel on a sword to see if they can stave off further punishment. The self-sanctioning measures levied at the football program will include the vacation of the entire 12-win 2010 season, including the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, and two years' probation. They're implementing a new oversight program of OSU student-athletes. Just to make things interesting, they've confirmed the presence of yet another ineligible player on the 2010 squad. And curiously, they're not taking on any postseason bans or scholarship losses.

Will that be enough? Opinions vary. And language in the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee ruling against USC makes it more difficult than ever to determine which way the authoritative body will sway based on previous cases.

And lest we forget: Tressel's still making money off this deal. Wonders never cease.

The university's hearing with the NCAA, during which school officials (and Jim Tressel himself, wonder of wonders!) will hear the Committee on Infractions' response to the self-imposed sanctions, is scheduled for August 12.

For more Buckeyes athletics news, visit SB Nation's Along The Olentangy and Off Tackle Empire.

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Former Ohio State Player Admits To Selling Team Memorabilia

Ready for the Ohio State memorabilia sales and car deals investigations to collide with primary source confirmation? Enter former Buckeyes wide receiver Ray Small, a suspension-happy-go-lucky kid who not only cops to selling team swag during his time in Columbus to pay bills, but fingers the now-familiar Jack Maxton Chevrolet as a friendly environment for players looking to get in a new ride:

"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."

The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said. "It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.

Read down to the bottom for one hell of a killer quote. And be sure to note, just for funsies, that this all went down while Ohio State was already on probation. Given that, and what's happened to Buckeye legends Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman at the hands of tOSU's lunatic fringe lately, and the fact that this interview is running in the Ohio State student newspaper, the comments on this one ought to be a lot of fun. Dig in!

For more on the latest spinning of the wheel of fate in Columbus, visit SB Nation's Ohio State community, Along the Olentangy.

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Jim Tressel Investigation: The Notice Of Allegations, In Full

Here's a handy .pdf of the Notice of Allegations delivered to Ohio State on Friday by the NCAA, via friend of the program Andy Staples. Student names have been redacted, but it's not at all difficult to suss out who's who. The allegations themselves are nothing new -- players had an inappropriate relationship with tattoo shop proprietor Edward Rife, sold memorabilia, and received discounted tattoos, and Jim Tressel knew all about it and participated in a passive coverup. It's the charges leveled at Tressel directly that provide the juice:

Jim Tressel, head football coach, knew or should have known that at least two football student-athletes received preferential treatment ... but he failed to report the information to athletics administrators and, as a result, permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition while ineligible.
[...]
It was reported that Jim Tressel, head football coach, failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics as required by NCAA legislation and violated ethical-conduct legislation.

The list of requested documents the NCAA wants on hand as part of the university's response is a fun one. Highlights of a lengthy list include a statement "describing Rife's relationship to the institution and its intercollegiate athletics program," another one for Ted Sarniak, figures totaling what the Buckeyes stand to make from the Big Ten network and other television deals, and a copy of Ohio State's protocol for reporting of violations, which we're sure Jim Tressel will manage to lose between now and August.

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Jim Tressel Investigation: Coach Contacted Terrelle Pryor Handlers, Shut Out Compliance Department

The Jim Tressel investigation has taken another ugly turn this Monday morning: Three reporters at the Columbus Dispatch got their hands on the Ohio State coach's phone records and logged emails dating back to last April, and released an investigative report this morning detailing their findings, which was only a warmup to the release of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations, but is still a juicy read. Who's ready to walk back through Tressel's initial press conference confessions and see what else gets contradicted?

We return to the well of Tressel claiming he didn't talk to anyone about Terrelle Pryor and his Tat Five Orchestra possibly playing an entire season while ineligible to do so because he didn't know who to turn to. We already know he talked to at least one person (Terrelle Pryor handler Ted Sarniak). Now, according to documents obtained by the Dispatch, there's evidence of more contact with Sarniak than was originally disclosed, as well as conversations with Pryor, Pryor's high school position coach, and a local FBI agent. Names you will not see appearing on this list as having been contacted by Tressel: His AD, the Ohio State president, or the Ohio State compliance department. For over eight months, this went on.

And keep in mind that this isn't over, and won't be for a very long time, and we're not even talking about the NCAA investigation: The Dispatch claims that OSU is still holding out on "several months of phone logs" and emails the paper requested. If we end up having to apologize to Beano Cook, of all people, we shall be extremely put out. 

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Jim Tressel Investigation: Ohio State's NCAA Notice Of Allegations Arrives

It's a quiet Monday in college football, and this offseason, that can only mean one thing: Time for another hallowed program to sink further into an NCAA quagmire of its own making! Ohio State has received the dreaded Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, and the Columbus Dispatch has the documents. In a continuation of the theme established earlier this spring, with charges leveled directly at coaches like Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl, the university appears to have dodged the failure to monitor charges as well as the hammer of a "lack of instifutional control" label, but Jim Tressel could face major sanctions for his alleged role in covering up violations committed by multiple Buckeye football players, some of which would have ruled starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and other team leaders ineligible for all of 2010.

"It was reported that Jim Tressel, head football coach, failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics and violated ethical-conduct legislation," the 13-page NCAA document says.

It gets worse: Thanks to earlier violations in the football and basketball programs on the part of Troy Smith and Jim O'Brien, the Buckeyes could be tagged as repeat offenders, although it's sort of funny that harboring seven potentially ineligible players doesn't garner a repeat offender designation all by itself. As it stands now, Ohio State is staring down an August 12 date with the Committee on Infractions, the result of which could encompass an 11-1 season vacated, docked scholarships, and (if the repeat offender penalty gets handed down) a postseason ban.

More details from the unearthed documents are available at the above Dispatch link, and for a good time, follow the reliable beat reporter Ken Gordon on Twitter as he speculates on the immediate future of Tressel and the Ohio State football program.

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Jim Tressel Investigation: LB Coach Luke Fickell Named Interim HC

Jim Tressel held his first press conference of spring ball today, putting to rest many hilarious reports that Ohio State was planning on firing him hours before the onset of the Buckeyes' first practice, and two remarkable things happened. First, he apologized, for real this time, but not without a dig:

"The largest regrets I've had in my life have been when I've disappointed people, when I've let people down," Tressel said while facing the media for the first time since March 8, when the violations were revealed. "The mistakes I've made are very disappointing. I'm sorry for that, as I've mentioned many times."

Those many, many mentions must have come while belting Phil Collins' "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven" while driving to the football complex, or whispered tersely in the general direction of concerned alumni while signing memorabilia and refusing to look at them. Because unless Tressel's referring to an unknown press event besides his only other media encounter during this episode, he's lying (again! haha!) if he says he apologized. 

The second bit of news is the appointment of linebackers coach Luke Fickell to the position of interim head coach while Tressel is serving his five-game suspension. A school press release calls Fickell "a Buckeye to the core," which we assume means he is poisonous when eaten.

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Jim Tressel Investigation Returns: Introducing Ted Sarniak

Fear not the specter of entering a pleasant spring weekend without a new twist to ponder in l'affaire Jim Tressel's inbox: The Columbus Dispatch has unearthed another layer of who-knew-what-when, and the "who" is a fellow by the name of Ted Sarniak. His relationship with Terrelle Pryor can be characterized with that vague, innocuous air of possible trouble so prevalent in major college athletics: 

Sarniak, 67, is a prominent businessman in Pryor's hometown of Jeannette, Pa. He befriended the quarterback years ago and accompanied him on recruiting trips to Ohio State and other universities.

Let's back up for a second and explain why he's now involved. Remember how Tressel's defense of his actions, in his long-delayed press conference, centered around his claim that he didn't know whom to confide in when his players' side business was brought to his attention? And remember how Gene Smith stepped in and awkwardly shushed him when he tried to answer a reporter's question regarding whether or not he'd forwarded the emails from Christopher Cicero?

The person he did confide in was Sarniak, which will raise all sorts of juicy message board questions over the weekend: What does Tressel's professed desire to protect Christopher Cicero's confidentiality mean now? Is Sarniak who Tressel is blaming when he refers to not getting "wise counsel"? Did Terrelle Pryor's "mentor" encourage the head coach to keep a lid on a potential NBA scandal? Stay tuned to this StoryStream for further updates to the year's least-scintillating scandal, and visit SB Nation's Along The Olentangy to commiserate with Ohio State fans. 

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Jim Tressel Investigation: Coaches Should Not Tap-Dance

Jim Tressel is, by most measurable standards of human production, a very good football coach, but good grief, could he ever use some better handlers. The press conference held a full day after news broke of the latest wrinkles in the Ohio State memorabilia scandal was bad enough, but it appears the good Senator is determined not to dig up, spinning this delightful yarn at a recent speaking engagement:

“We are in a situation right now that I didn't get as wise of counsel as I should have,” Tressel said Tuesday.

“And so I am accountable for a leadership action that I took. But that's part of being a leader. And when you are a leader, and you are a servant, you look it right in the eyes, you learn, you know what you should do, you are reminded that you should always seek wise counsel, and then you go forward.”

 ... after which, of course, you are totally free to blame your situation on all those poor unwise souls you asked for counsel. (Hey, remember that time Tressel's defense was that he withheld information from the school because he didn't know who to talk to about legal issues related to NCAA violations? Because that was two weeks ago.)

[HT: The Ozone, via Dan Wetzel's Twitter feed.]

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Jim Tressel's Emails 'Confidential'? Not So, Says Christopher Cicero

Hey, so here's a fun twist to the Jim Tressel investigation story: Christopher Cicero, the lawyer who emailed Tressel warnings that his players were selling memorabilia to a guy under federal investigation for drug-related activities, told Outside The Lines that he never intended for Tressel to keep his emails a secret. That's inconvenient for Tressel, because wanting to protect Cicero's confidentiality was the cornerstone of his astoundingly ill-advised self-defense walkabout at Tuesday's press conference:

In those emails it was very emphatic that there be confidentiality. The tenor, as I read them, perhaps because of my emotion, was that it was serious and that confidentiality was critical.

You can peruse the emails in question for yourself and come to your own conclusions. And we're sure there will be another forthcoming explanation for this latest wrinkle. Maybe it'll be a better one. And maybe we'll end up just adding it to the list of things Jim Tressel "didn't know."

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Jim Tressel's Contract Could Be Voided By Ohio State If Allegations Are True

In the wake of last night's Yahoo! Sports report that Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel knew of players selling Buckeyes memorabilia as early as last April, the Columbus Dispatch's BuckeyeXtra blog reminds us of a new wrinkle: Apart from any sanctions the NCAA might choose to level at the football program if these allegations are proven, Tressel could lose his contract with the university just for the lie of omission. His current deal with the Buckeyes runs through the 2014 season, and highly subjective message-board chatter has had him pegged as a good bet for retirement once that contract runs out, but depending on how that shakes out, his departure date from Columbus could be abruptly bumped up:

If Tressel knew of the potential violations in April and did not act on or inform his superiors about it, he could be charged with NCAA violations including unethical conduct, failure to monitor and/or a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. As is standard for most coaches at major Division I schools, Tressel's contract can be terminated for failing to promptly report violations.

Note that there's very recent precedent for an NCAA head coach undergoing this indignity and continuing to serve: Tennessee's Bruce Pearl remains with the Volunteers basketball team despite having his own contract terminated, and is essentially an at-will employee of the university while the NCAA investigation into his program is going on. A contractual halt wouldn't necessarily finish Tressel at Ohio State, if it comes to that.

For more on the Buckeyes memorabilia scandal and for all your Ohio State athletics news and chatter, visit SB Nation's Along The Olentangy.

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