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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.
New Ohio St. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer took over a program he knew would soon be in NCAA troubles. While he didn't quite know the extent of the damage, he apparently felt the risk wasn't too great to take on. The most damaging sanction is the new scholarship limit, which trims his full ride count from 85 to 82 for each of the next three years, but he's lapping the Big Ten right now and could probably stand to be brought down a peg anyway. Honestly, Mr. Meyer.
The one-year bowl prohibition won't hurt him all that much, unless a couple seniors were looking for a reason to transfer away from the new regime. Otherwise, this is essentially the same program he knew he'd be taking over, now with a built-in rallying cry.
A statement from Meyer on the news:
I agreed to become the Head Football Coach at The Ohio State University because Shelley and I are Ohio natives, I am a graduate of this wonderful institution and served in this program under a great coach. I understand the academic and athletic traditions here and will give great effort to continue those traditions.
It is still my goal to hire excellent coaches, recruit great student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and to win on and off the field. The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties. I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation.
Ohio St. Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday he is "surprised and disappointed" that the NCAA chose to stiffen penalties imposed against OSU. The school had recommended a minor assortment of punishments for itself, which the NCAA supplemented with a bowl ban, increased digits throughout and a steely shunning of former coach Jim Tressel.
In a statement, Smith said the Buckeyes don't plan to fight the NCAA any further, but wants you to know he doesn't like any of this:
"We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision," said Gene Smith, Ohio State's Athletics Director and Associate Vice President. "However, we have decided not to appeal the decision because we need to move forward as an institution. We recognize that this is a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics. Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground, and Ohio State embraces its leadership responsibilities and affirms its long-standing commitment to excellence in education and integrity in all it does.
"My primary concern, as always, is for our students, and this decision punishes future students for the actions of others in the past," said Smith. "Knowing our student-athletes, however, I have no doubt in their capacity to turn this into something positive - for themselves and for the institution. I am grateful to our entire Buckeye community for their continued support."
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.
The NCAA's report on just how hard the Ohio St. Buckeyes have been hit due to the great tattoo coverup: it is out now. As reported, the Buckeyes will miss postseason play next year, lose nine scholarships through 2014-15, and are now on probation through Dec. 2014. That's in addition to vacated 2010 wins, forfeited bowl winnings and campus disassociation with Terrelle Pryor.
But if Ohio State's apparent strategy really was to pin the troubles on Jim Tressel, it looks like it worked. Tressel faces a five-year show-cause penalty, meaning he essentially cannot coach a college football team for the next five years. In order to hire him, a school would have to get special NCAA approval.
The punishment will have impact lasting well beyond that, though, since he's now tarnished for good. Not to mention recruiting against Tressel would be a piece of cake for any competing program, even 10 years down the road, since Ohio State and the NCAA have both portrayed him as the prime culprit here.
Quoth the NCAA:
"Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations to institutional officials, the Big Ten Conference or the NCAA," the committee stated in its report.
Tuesday, the year-long escapade into just who get how many free tattoos came to a conclusion, with the NCAA seeing the Ohio St. Buckeyes and raising them quite a bit. The 2012 bowl ban is getting the most attention, but nine lost scholarships will have more instant and long-term impact.
It could've been a whole lot worse, though, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reports, and if there's anybody we'll trust about things getting a whole lot worse, it's Mr. Robinson:
@CharlesRobinson Key witness refused to cooperate w/ NCAA's Ohio State probe. Had he taken part, sanctions could have been far worse. OSU dodged a bullet.
Your first thought was not unique: Robinson quickly clarified that the witness was not Terrelle Pryor and was not a player at all.
This isn't uncommon. Since the NCAA has no legal power to force anyone to provide information, it has to rely on free and willing cooperation to conduct its own investigations.
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:
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.
So what exactly is happening here? Didn't we go through this already, when the Buckeyes vacated their 2010 wins and so forth? That was Ohio State's recommended punishment for themselves, not the NCAA's official proclamation. The governing body could accept those terms, or it could ramp them up.
To think, the NCAA could've waited just two more days, and we would've gotten to enjoy an entire year of this story. Since then a quarterback has left, a coach was fired, multiple rounds of suspensions happened, a Sugar Bowl win was nullified, and Urban Meyer wound up in Columbus so maybe everything's not all that bad.
Many had speculated Meyer was waiting to find out just how hard the Bucks would be hit before he elected to take the job. He must have surmised it wouldn't be all that bad, but he's about to find out for sure.
The Ohio State University has paid $142,000 in legal fees to Crabbe, Brown and James LLP, a Columbus, Ohio-based law firm that is representing several athletes that have been under investigation by the NCAA, Alex Antonetz of The Lantern, the Buckeyes' student newspaper, reports.
According to the report, the payments are being made from Ohio State's Athletics Department's general operations fund, which are not funded by student fees. Additional resources for this use would be available from the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, which is funded by revenue generated from the NCAA basketball tournament. The university has not dipped into the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund to pay for legal services for the athletes who were suspended for receiving compensation from booster Robert DiGeronimo for work that they did not do.
Last week, wide receiver DeVier Posey was suspended for five games. Previously suspended for five games to start the season due to "Tattoo-Gate", the senior will be limited to just two games this season. Sophomore offensive lineman Marcus Hall, junior defensive lineman Melvin Fellows and senior running back Daniel Herron were suspended for last week's game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Buckeyes lost to the Cornhuskers, 34-27 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Ohio State Buckeyes just released word that four players will be forced to serve suspensions and miss games. Wide receiver DeVier Posey must sit out five games and repay his benefits. Meanwhile. Marcus Hall, Melvin Fellows, and Daniel Herron will all serve one game suspensions. "I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA's decision regarding DeVier Posey," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said. "This penalty is harsh considering the nature of the violation and the five-game suspension already served by this student-athlete."
According to the release, Posey will have to repay a booster $720 for "work not performed." Posey also accepted $100 in golf fees, which the NCAA considers preferential treatment. The other three players, Hall, Fellows, and Herron will also have to repay benefits for work not performed. Hall wil have to pay back $230, while Herron and Fellows will have to pay back $290. The suspensions for Posey and Herron are in addition to the previous five game suspension that each are already serving.
In DeVier Posey's case, this means he will be suspended for 10 of 12 total games during the 2011 season. Posey will get to play one game at home against Penn State and the annual match up with the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
To keep up with the Buckeyes, head over to Along the Olentangy
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:
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.
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.
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 apologies, finally. And the world spins madly on. September, hurry up, would you?
Ted Sarniak, one of the people in the middle of Jim Tressel's departure from Ohio State, was investigated as far back as 2008 because of his relationship with Terrelle Pryor. NCAA records show that Sarniak was under some suspicion of improperly helping Pryor choose his college, but was cleared of any wrong doing. He was told that he needed to change his relationship, though.
"Mr. Sarniak may continue his relationship with Pryor and his family," Ohio State NCAA compliance director Doug Archie wrote to Sarniak on Sept. 5, 2008. "However, since the relationship does not meet the NCAA's definition of a 'pre-existing relationship,' NCAA rules require that the relationship must change."
The NCAA investigation did find that Sarniak was improperly given free lodging during Pryor's recruiting visit, but that he was later billed for the hotel stay. It was also found that Sarniak paid for some meals of two assistant coaches who were visiting Pryor. The violations were reported as secondary violations, meaning they were considered common and usually unintended.
In April 2010, Tressel's relationship with Sarniak was deemed to have crossed that line. After receiving an email from an anonymous tipster warning Tressel of some possible violations, the coach forwarded the email to Sarniak rather than notify his superiors. Tressel eventually told NCAA investigators that he thought of notifying Sarniak because of his relationship with Pryor and "I felt from a safety standpoint that I needed to alert Ted to the gravity of that." Tressel was forced to resign in May largely because of that decision.
Ohio State's defense in its case before the NCAA is likely to depend heavily on turning Jim Tressel into the villain and arguing that the university has plausible deniability about what the sweatervested coach might have been up to. So how exactly does the latest public-records dump play into that? It helps the Tressel-as-villain theme, but maybe not so much the deniability proposition.
Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was told by the school that he did a poor job of self-reporting NCAA violations years before he failed to tell his bosses that players were selling championship rings and other Buckeyes memorabilia, a cover-up that cost him his job.
In an evaluation of Tressel's job performance from 2005-06, then-athletic director Andy Geiger rated Tressel "unacceptable" in terms of self-reporting rules violations in a timely manner. The coach was also warned in a separate letter that he and his staff needed to do a better job of monitoring the cars the players were driving -- an issue that would arise again this spring.
As you can probably imagine, there's more. Tressel gave a jersey to a recruit in the summer of 2001, just months after he took over as head coach. Not that all the allegations contained in the documents are bombshells. The pettiness of NCAA regulations appear in a reprimand for allowing a recruit's mother to make a call paid for by the university, a violation worth a whopping $7.93. And there are a range of accusations in between.
There's now little question left -- and really has been for a while -- that Jim Tressel's image of the rule-abiding coachmarm was a carefully constructed fraud. But it's become harder and harder to argue with a straight face that Ohio State didn't know that all along.
ESPN is currently suing Ohio State in an effort to learn more about Ted Sarniak and other entities. But it's not as if they just started reaching out to OSU out of the blue. The Worldwide Leader has been working Ohio State for weeks, trying to get information, documents, emails and whatever else they can get their hands on.
Anything related to Jim Tressel, Gene Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Edward Rife, tattoos, cars, tickets and, heck, even Brutus, seemed up for grabs as ESPN and dozens other outlets hit up OSU with requests to see their internal docs, as is their right under the Freedom Of Information Act.
Eleven Warriors has posted correspondence between Ohio State and several press outlets. It ranges from Cleveland Plain Dealer's really polite request to ESPN's "give us what we want or else" mantra.
For more on Ohio State and their ongoing football-related issues, keep an eye on Along The Olentangy.
Kyle Kalis, a four-star offensive lineman from Lakewood St. Edward High School (Ohio), committed to the University of Michigan Sunday morning, ending widespread speculation regarding his renewed recruitment. Rivals.com's No. 4 rated offensive tackle in the country -- and No. 18 rated national prospect -- joins the Wolverines as their 19th recruit of the 2012 class.
In addition to the inherent groans that stem from any Michigan success, this coup is sure to personally grind the gears of Ohio State University officials, as Kalis was once committed to become a Buckeye before the Jim Tressel scandal reached critical mass. The 6-5, 302 pound stud prospect de-committed following the now infamous resignation of the university's embattled head coach, and quickly visited Ann Arbor twice in two weekends before making the announcement official.
Kalis joins fellow recruits Blake Bars (four-star), Erik Magnuson (four-star), Ben Braden (three-star), and Caleb Stacey (three-star) in what some are already calling one of the greatest offensive line classes in Wolverine history. Needless to say, it seems like the Brady Hoke era is starting off quite smoothly.
Hey, why not! The Worldwide Leader is doing what the NCAA apparently can't, and has filed paperwork to take the Ohio St. Buckeyes to court in an effort to learn more about Ted Sarniak and other entities. That's either Terrelle Pryor's handler or mentor Ted Sarniak to you, depending on who's telling the story.
ESPN was slow to rouse on this story, waiting after several other outlets had pored through Jim Tressel's shameful emails to even note the existence of a scandal. If they're spearheading a new effort to get to the bottom of the story, Ohio State's troubles could only be beginning.
Plus, the worst the NCAA is going to do is take away scholarships and forbid Ohio State from playing bowl games. ESPN can do more damage to the program's bottom line than the NCAA ever could. Might be wise to give them what they want and just start wincing.
Columbus, Ohio is a weird place, man. 2010 never happened, and now a player who was already suspended could find himself triply suspended, and depending on your age you're definitely thinking about quoting one of two specific movies.
LB Dorian Bell, who was already out for the whole 2011 season due to repeat violations of team rules, is reportedly the mystery man named in Ohio State's half-hearted groveling before the NCAA as being found ineligible due to receiving deep tattoo discounts. And, oh yeah, he already has another game's worth of suspension left after sitting out the Sugar Bowl.
Bell is a sophomore, and if this keeps going he'll be 35 years old by the time he's allowed to play college football again. At some point along the way, he'll have to get on that paper chase for real, because college can be super expensive.
Today Ohio State formally performed an auto-auto-da-fe, the act of setting yourself on fire before the Inquisition decides to set you on fire themeslves. Yet instead of doing the whole shebang, Ohio State President Gordon Gee and Buckeyes Athletic Director flourished dramatically, soaked a single toe of their boot in lighter fluid, and then struck a match and expected the NCAA to call it a proper fire.
Ohio State vacated the entire 2010 season and the 2011 Sugar Bowl, the effective equivalent of asking the judge in a criminal trial to accept "time served" as penalty for whatever you've done. Vacating wins is a punishment only the past pays for: there's no refund of bowl loot collected, no taking back the revenue earned by a team knowingly playing with ineligible players. It is the apology of a cheating spouse once it's already happened, and the "we regret the hurt our actions may have caused" of NCAA sanctions. It punishes no past bad behavior, and discourages no future malpractice.
Expecting to get away with the "revoked hall pass" of sanctions is insane, but they have to try. I understand that. You have to ask for the bare minimum here, lest you give the NCAA too much in terms of concessions, or make it appear as if the institution is saying it deserves no punishment at all. I get that.
The part that really confuses in all of this is Ohio State's treatment of Jim Tressel in the case. Tressel will testify at the August 12th hearing before the Infractions Committee, and presumably accept full blame for misleading NCAA investigators and concealing prohibited benefits to Buckeye football players. In exchange for their cooperation, Tressel's resignation is changed to a retirement. Tressel will receive $50 grand or so in vacation time, and will also receive some tail-end insurance coverage for him and his family. He will also not pay a $250,000 fine Ohio State President Gordon Gee said the disgraced coach would pay, a decision Gee explained by not explaining it or responding to media inquiries.
So on the same day, Ohio State publicly confessed to breaking the codes of amateurism governing NCAA football, and simultaneously rewards its coach for taking the fall for them. This turns the entire case at this point into a referendum on Jim Tressel's plausibility as a villain here, turning the man who spent a decade building the Tressel brand into a synonym for virtue, starched clothing, and the moral fiber of the well-placed punt into a convincing bad guy. It will be his villain turn. For Ohio State's sake, they better hope it turns out more like Robin Williams in One Hour Photo and less like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman Forever.
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.
Ohio State is scheduled to submit its reply by Friday to the NCAA against charges of major violations that led to coach Jim Tressel's resignation and the departure of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
AD Gene Smith says the school has answered all outstanding questions related to the charges and violations.
He said Ohio State had worked hard to answer all the questions stemming from charges that football players received cash and discounted tattoos from a local businessman and that Tressel had covered up his knowledge of the NCAA violations.
Athletic department spokesman Dan Wallenberg said the school will publicly release the response on Monday after redacting the names of student-athletes from the official document.
Once that reply is submitted, the school will next have a hearing on August 12 before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Following that, the NCAA will rule on the matter within 1-2 months. Penalties could include, but are not limited to, a postseason ban that could start immediately, forcing the Buckeyes to miss out on the Big Ten's inaugural championship game.
For more on Ohio State football and reaction to the response, visit Along The Olentangy.
The first major domino to fall in the Ohio State Buckeyes tattoo investigation will also be the first one to do time: Edward Rife, owner of the tattoo shop that allegedly provided tattooes in exchange for Ohio State memorabilia, has plead guilty to drug trafficking charges.
Rife first became a person of interest in the many overlapping Ohio State investigations when his name came up in emails sent to former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel in late 2010. Rife owned and operated Fine Ink Tattoos in Columbus, allegedly both taking memorabilia from Buckeyes in exchange for ink and selling marijuana out of the tattoo parlor.
Rife's office was raided last year, and law officers discovered and seized memorabilia that appeared to come from Buckeyes players.
For more Ohio State news, join Buckeyes community Along The Olentangy, SB Nation Cleveland, and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire. Also catch up on the latest news surrounding the Terrelle Pryor cars investigation and Jim Tressel's resignation.
Here’s a suggestion for the Ohio State power-brokers: If you’re going to hold a secret meeting, it’s probably not the best idea to hold it in a room with large windows in the door. Because then news reporters can see you meeting, and they get suspicious about such things, particularly when your program is about to be hammered into the Gilded Age by the NCAA.
The meeting appeared to be a possible violation of Ohio’s opening meetings law, as the law generally requires meetings to be held in public when such a meeting involves a majority of the board members who are discussing state business, Aker reported.
Knowing that Ohio State scrupulously follows the rule book, we find it hard to believe that the administration would so blatantly break the law.
What could they have been discussing at this meeting that might be about the NCAA investigation? Perhaps the continued employment of President Gordon Gee or Athletics Director Gene Smith, both of whom stood behind former football head coach Jim Tressel beyond when most people thought he was a dead man walking. Perhaps the strategy for dealing with the investigation, which would gel with Gee’s description of a “strategy session.”
Or maybe they were just discussing the best place to buy a car in Columbus. No problems there, right?
With the Ohio State football team in turmoil and turnover, it's no surprise that recruits are also jumping ship. The Buckeyes have already lost two players and now they may lose out on five-star offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, reports Scout.com.
Kalis had committed to Ohio State earlier in the year, but when former head coach Jim Tressel resigned on Memorial Day Kalis was ready to de-commit then. Interim coach Luke Fickell was only able to keep Kalis committed for several more weeks before he informed the coach on Tuesday night.
While he hasn't ruled out re-committing to Ohio State, Kalis has planned a visit to the Michigan Wolverines for this weekend. Along the Olentangy, our Ohio State blog, doesn't feel very confident in the school's recruiting right now:
It is now abundantly clear that Luke Fickell and his staff cannot adequately recruit until the NCAA finishes with Ohio State. Ohio State is ripe for negative recruiting with its instability, and there is nothing that can be said or done in the interim to fix the problem.
And who knows how any sanctions the NCAA does hand down will affect recruiting. Rough waters are still ahead for the Buckeyes.
Speculation that the various investigations and resignations in the Ohio State football program would ripple forward and negatively affect recruiting has been running wild for months, but actual detrimental movement on the board has been relatively quiet, until now: Linebacker signee Ejuan Price, released from his scholarship at the end of last week, will return to his home state of Pennsylvania and play for the Pitt Panthers. Coming on the heels of the news that defensive end Se'Von Pittman is headed to East Lansing, it's another second unneeded blow for the beleaguered Buckeyes.
You might remember Price was a tricky one to get in the Columbus fold in the first place; his commitment to Jim Tressel's regime was apparently in question until the very end. Rated as a three-star ILB by Rivals, the Woodland Hills native was recruited by the guy now perched precariously in the head coach's seat, Luke Fickell, and fielded offers from such programs as Iowa and West Virginia.
Follow Ejuan Price on his new team with SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cardiac Hill.
On Sunday Ohio State's Class of 2011 graduated inside Ohio Stadium, and President E. Gordon Gee couldn't let the moment pass without obliquely mentioning the recent troubles surrounding the Buckeyes football team:
"Let me acknowledge on this day of celebration, in this cathedral of triumph and hope, that many Buckeye hearts are heavy," Gee said. "On rare occasion, this great grand building has been home to disappointment and tumult. That is but a temporary condition."
It's a noble goal to make the football team what it once was, but what else could he say? As the president, he's expected to be a strong leader and to put a good face on everything. How long and it will take and if Gee will still be in place to oversee that still remain to be answered.
Speaker of the House John Boehner provided the commencement address and stayed away from this topic. No need to possibly mis-speak and upset his constituents.
For more Ohio State, join Buckeyes community Along The Olentangy, SB Nation Cleveland and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire. Also catch up on the latest news surrounding the Terrelle Pryor cars investigation, the scandal unfortunately labeled Tatgate and Jim Tressel's resignation.
Another day, another allegation of a lack of oversight at Ohio State. This time, the Cleveland Plain Dealer alleges Jim Tressel was warned of Dennis Talbott's relationships with players as far back as 2007, before Terrelle Pryor even step foot on campus. Talbott allegedly paid Pryor $20,000 to $40,000 for signed memorabilia, according to an ESPN Outside the Lines report earlier this week.
The email sent to Tressel reportedly notified the Ohio State coach that Talbott had been selling signed pieces of memorabilia from players whose eligibility had not expired. Talbott was known to the staff at Ohio State as he was a credentialed media member at some point, though his access was not renewed in 2010. But if Tressel had been given warning about Talbott and his sale of signed memorabilia and did not act, it could be added to the ever-growing pile of allegations the NCAA is investigating.
The issue is whether Ohio State had reason to act when it came to Talbott's access to the team; whether his continued presence around the program led to any NCAA violations that could have been prevented; and whether those at Ohio State committed potential violations if they failed to follow up on information.
The farther media organizations look into allegations of a lack of oversight at Ohio State, the deeper the rabbit hole goes. And if the current memorabilia trade allegations stretch back to 2007 and beyond, there appears to be a strong case for the dreaded lack of institutional control tag, or worse.
For more Ohio State, join Buckeyes community Along The Olentangy, SB Nation Cleveland and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire. Also catch up on the latest news surrounding the Terrelle Pryor cars investigation, the scandal unfortunately labeled Tatgate and Jim Tressel's resignation.
Remember Ted Sarniak? Terrelle Pryor's mentor, with whom Jim Tressel confided regarding the quarterback's potential role in shady dealings? According to the Columbus Dispatch's Jill Riepenhoff and Mike Wagner, the communication between Tressel and Sarniak went far beyond a phone call or two.
Tressel reportedly spent over four hours talking to Sarniak since receiving notice of the supposed drug trafficking investigation, along with multiple text messages. Points of contact appear to have coincided with milestones in the story, such as before and after the announcement of Pryor's 2011 suspension.
The report also says Tressel sent 91 texts to Roy Hall, the football coach at Pryor's high school, despite Hall previously claiming he hadn't talked to the coach about the investigation.
For more Ohio State, join Buckeyes community Along The Olentangy, SB Nation Cleveland and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire. Also catch up on the latest news surrounding the Terrelle Pryor cars investigation, the scandal unfortunately labeled Tatgate and Jim Tressel's resignation.
While Ohio State awaits a ruling from the NCAA on future punishment for the numerous scandals that have come to light in recent months, don't expect the university to dismiss or accept the resignation of other school officials. On Wednesday, reports the Columbus Dispatch, OSU president E. Gordon Gee told attendees at a school event that he has no plans to fire athletic director Gene Smith, nor does he expect him to resign.
But even Gee is not immune to these events, as some have called for his ouster as well. Unless that happens, Gee will make sure the university's compliance department improves its standards. Former Buckeyes coach John Cooper recently took aim at the department for letting this happen, noting that during his time compliance was constantly being checked.
Should the university's Board of Trustees choose to dismiss Gee, which may just be idle speculation, all bets are likely off on Smith retaining his position.
For more on events in Columbus, visit SB Nation's Ohio State community, Along the Olentangy.
The tattoo artist who exchanged free tattoos for Ohio State memorabilia with Buckeye football players has been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering, according to federal prosecutors.
Tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife, whose barter of services for goods triggered what has become an ever-widening investigation into improper benefits at Ohio State, will likely enter into some kind of plea deal. Documents show Rife pleading guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of "conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 200 pounds of marijuana." This is probably a very good idea on the part of Rife and his defense team; these charges are federal, and federal prosecutors have a habit of being very serious about these things. (Ask Marion Jones about that.)
The investigation into Rife's shady business dealings is the very one mentioned in emails to Jim Tressel regarding an ongoing federal probe involving Buckeye football players, and the starting point for the series of garbled communications (and some say outright lies) between Jim Tressel, the Ohio State administration, and the NCAA regarding players receiving improper benefits.
Though you're probably going to jail, Mr. Rife, don't say you never accomplished anything. You may have helped unseat a seemingly unfireable coach at one of the nation's biggest football programs, and that certainly does qualify as something. (A big, messy, damaging something, but something nonetheless.)
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.
During the Big Ten's spring meetings on Wednesday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced that embattled football coach Jim Tressel will need to pay the legal fees for his representation during the NCAA's investigation into his knowledge of illegal activities involving his players.
The university will have a lawyer from the NCAA present their case during the infraction committees hearing on Aug. 12. Ohio State has its own issues with the cost of this investigation, and Smith has called the entire thing "a nightmare." However, Smith still supports his coach, though he did not speak any further on the issues since the investigation is ongoing.
At the very least, Tressel will miss the first five games of the season due to suspension, serving it alongside the players who received improper benefits. The NCAA infractions committee could ultimately impose a harsher punishment.
April is a cruel time for college football writers. National signing day is gone; spring practices are wrapping up, and the summer doldrums await. It's understandable, then, that a story like the Jim Tressel investigation gets snapped up for pundits to take practice swings at, in the absence of actual bad football decisions over which to excoriate their favorite targets. We absolutely do not begrudge them this time. Offseason conditioning is important for us all, and besides, most of this makes for highly entertaining reading. Some of our favorite takes from the week are rounded up below.
First up, we've got no less than the Associated Press taking Tressel to the woodshed, in a column titled, "Tressel lies are an embarrassment to Ohio State":
Consider that Tressel knew he was doing something wrong himself when he said late last year that his players must have known they did something wrong [...] "I suppose that would be something rattling around inside the head of each of them individually," he said at the time. "We all have a little sensor within us, 'Well, I'm not sure if I should be doing this.'" Apparently that little sensor malfunctioned in Tressel, especially on Sept. 13 of last year.
Then it's SEC elder statesman Tony Barnhart's turn at the pinata, and he's taking this fight regional:
I don't want to hear any more lectures on ethics or morals or accountability from that part of the world -- not if Jim Tressel returns as Ohio State's football coach this season. If a Southern football coach did what Tressel did, which was to engage in an orchestrated coverup of potential NCAA violations, the calls for his firing would have been immediate and would have come from sea to shining sea, especially from the Big Ten. And they would be right.
The always-jocular Jason Whitlock has his patented contrarian's take on the matter:
Firing Jim Tressel is the easy way out. It’s a high-profile drug bust. It’s dope on the table worthy of a televised press conference and a slew of journalism awards for The Columbus Dispatch. You don’t need to be Slim Charles to understand that, in the aftermath of Tressel’s tattoo cover-up, "the game remains the same, just more fierce."
And in the most curious twist of all, the FireJimTressel.com website (it's been around for a while, and yes, every coach has one, probably) is ... defending the site's designated punching bag?
I know there is a lot of people calling for Tressel's head, and I know there's a lot of people acting like this is a major, major violation. I'm obviously not a big fan of Tressel when it comes to his X's and O's, but I still can't buy into this thing as some type of major, career ending violation.
All [sics] aside, truly, college football makes strange bedfellows.
The sizable swath of America that composes Buckeye Nation has some collective breath-holding to do, as a respected program awaits an August date with the NCAA Committee on Infractions that will direct the destiny of Jim Tressel. As investigation timelines go, this case is a runaway train on a steep downgrade (ask USC fans how much fun it is to play this waiting game for four years), but the accelerated process means the Bucks' head coach could, in the worst of scenarios, be the subject of a show-cause penalty by the middle of the 2011 football season. SB Nation's Ohio State blog, Along the Olentangy, is here to talk beleaguered fans off ledges, with a call for patience:
What does this all mean? As followers of the criminal justice system well know, a defendant is informed of the maximum possible penalty that can be levied against them to prepare that individual to defend the charges, and do determine how he or she wants to proceed. [...] This is all simply to point out that those speculating regarding penalties are putting the cart before the horse and lack several pieces of information to give any type of accurate analysis. At this point, the NCAA's investigative arm has simply informed OSU of what charges they must defend against, and what is off the table. OSU will now have a chance to make their case before the NCAA's adjudicative body. It's certainly possible that the maximum penalties may be imposed on OSU, but only after this process is completed. It's too early to accurately speculate on what might happen.
Recall that this case becomes even more difficult to predict with multiple recent personnel turnovers in the COI itself, including the chairman. Whether the new blood will be more or less inclined to punish a marquee program remains very much to be seen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Tressel did receive a self-requested three game extension of his existing two game suspension for lying to NCAA investigators, bringing the total games to be served up to the five games Terrelle Pryor and three other players will sit out for their role in an improper benefits case. The NCAA did uphold the existing five game suspensions of the players involved, and the Ohio State University did issue a statement describing all this. Superficially, this did all resolve itself last night, and technically speaking, the matter of “Tatgate” is done in the eyes of the institutions involved.
There is one loose thread, however: Tressel’s three game extension, which he requested, was likely a concession to the NCAA stalling future action concerning Tressel’s violation of NCAA bylaw 10.1, the one barring “unethical conduct.” This is the point where things get squirrelly, because we are talking about the NCAA and rule enforcement, and that is a mysterious matter at best in the year 2011.
If Tressel’s suspension was made with the tacit approval of the NCAA, that would mean that Ohio State would face no further action in the case. This kind of communication during the self-imposed penalty phase is not uncommon in these cases. When Cecil Newton admitted to shopping his son Cam Newton’s services in the fall of 2010, Auburn University consulted with the NCAA in order to create a solution they found satisfactory. (That solution was ultimately to declare Cam Newton ineligible for a day, and then reinstate him based on the player’s lack of knowledge of the situation.)
This discreet approval of Ohio State’s actions by the NCAA could be one scenario. The other is that this is a bone thrown in the direction of an organization that could could in theory still punish Ohio State further for Tressel’s lies to investigators. Tressel claims an overlapping confidentiality conflict with a federal drug investigation caused some confusion over what he could say to the NCAA, but technically that conflict caused a violation of 10.1. As you will hear several hundred times when reading about this case, 12 coaches have violated rule 10.1. Eleven of those were fired as a result.
This all hinges on the NCAA acting in a predictable and consistent manner, and that may be the biggest wild card in this entire case.
SB Nation's Ohio State blog, Around The Olentangy, is trying to make sense of what we all know now about Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, and his upcoming five-game suspension. ATO now thinks he looks a bit like the other thing most Americans associate with politicians: Someone faced with a career-altering scandal.
Tuesday evening, for arguably the first time in his tenure as head coach, Tressel looked uncomfortable. He was struggling to formulate responses to the question-answer portion of the press conference. There were times, honestly, where his words were hesitant, slurred and bordering on contradictory. For one night, politics were not his strong suit. ...
Bottom line: exit polls are unkind to Tressel right now. Even among loyal party-line followers, Tressel must somehow restore his credibility. To do so will be a long and arduous process and may not be possible.
In the end, ATO still says that Tressel should remain as Ohio State head coach. But even they seem to acknowledge that he has little room for error.
On Thursday night, Ohio State Jim Tressel announced that he would take the same five-game suspension that his five players received in December 2010 for receiving extra benefits that violated NCAA rules, according to Ray Stein of The Columbus Dispatch. It was a decision of his own choosing. This came shortly after the NCAA denied Ohio State's appeal of those suspensions.
Tressel received a two-game suspension on March 8 for his role in the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that led to suspensions for his five players. Tressel was not forthcoming with information on when he first learned of the violations.
Tressel,, , , and Mike Adams will miss the team's four non-conference games against Akron, Toledo, Miami (Fl.) and Colorado in September. They will also miss the Big Ten opener against Michigan State on Sat., Oct. 1.
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.]
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."
The one takeaway from day four of the Jim Tressel/NCAA saga is this: longer one has to look at it, the worse it looks. That seems to be the summary from today's round of reactions, leading with the Sporting News' Matt Hayes, who pieces together the full timeline of Tressel's actions over the course of the illegal benefits case and finds the evidence damning in triplicate.
• Tressel signed a document on Sept. 13, 2010 that said he was not aware of NCAA violations.
• He failed to tell school officials on or around Dec. 9, 2010 about emails he received in April explaining players’ involvement in selling memorabilia.
• He did not tell school officials about the emails – or his knowledge of players selling memorabilia -- when specifically asked on Dec. 16, 2010. He also misled school officials that day when stating he “did not recall from whom he received the tip,” and that he “did not know that any items had been seized.”
There is also a mention of the dreaded phrase "lack of institutional control" in Hayes' piece, albeit one made by the writer and not by the NCAA.
Additional irony can be found in Ohio State's firing of former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien in 2004, where violation of NCAA bylaws were used as justification for terminating with cause.
Christopher Cicero, a former Ohio State football walk-on, has been identified as the man who sent Jim Tressel emails about Buckeyes players being connected to a federal drug investigation, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Mike Wagner and Randy Ludlow. Cicero works as a lawyer in Columbus and played in 1983, when Tressel was a Buckeyes assistant head coach.
The Dispatch also reports an affair with a judge, an accusation of striking a client, and a suspended license in Cicero’s exciting backstory. I’m not quite sure where sharing case information with a football coach will rank among his greatest deeds, but it’s certainly the most noteworthy.
It’s not clear at this point what Cicero’s involvement was in the tattoo parlor case that started all this.
The timeline of events of Ohio State's investigation into what head coach Jim Tressel knew of possible NCAA violations stemming from the sale of memorabilia and when came to the forefront after Tressel was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 on Tuesday. At issue is what Tressel knew about the violations, when he knew it and whether or not he kept the information to himself.
SB Nation's Along The Olentangy put together a timeline that paints a clearer picture about what Tressel knew and how long it took him to come forward. The initial correspondence, an email from an attorney to Tressel, was sent on April 2, 2010. Even after Ohio State was informed its athletes had sold merchandise for tattoos, on Dec. 7, 2010, it still took more than a month for Tressel to come forward, and he only did so after Ohio State's Office of Legal Affairs uncovered the emails.
January 13th, 2011: During an unrelated review of information, Ohio State's Office of Legal Affairs discovered an email from Coach Tressel regarding the tattoo parlor investigation. (It is unclear who the email was directed towards. The wording is ambiguous as to whether it was the original email or another directed to a third party.)
Three days later, on Jan. 16, Tressel acknowledged the emails and his correspondence with the attorney, triggering a chain of events that led to Tuesday's press conference and self-imposed sanctions.
Over the course of nine months, Tressel, apparently, kept the early notification of possible NCAA infractions to himself, according to the timeline. It was that secrecy, not the sale of memorabilia itself, which is a separate investigation, that led to Tressel's suspension.
For more on the Buckeyes, check out SB Nation's Along The Olentangy.
Just how much did Jim Tressel know about the reported NCAA violations involving the sale of Ohio State memorabilia in exchange for tattoos that led to the suspension of five prominent football players? On Tuesday, following the announcement Ohio State would self-impose sanctions upon Tressel, emails were released revealing the correspondence between the Buckeyes' head coach and an attorney who originally raised a red flag about athletes selling memorabilia in April of 2010.
The emails detail a federal drug trafficking investigation that centered on a local tattoo parlor owner, Edward Rife, who possessed signed memorabilia from current Ohio State players. The first email, dated April 2, 2010, raised the alarm while notifying Tressel of the history of Rife and providing basic information about the signed memorabilia he was in possession of. Tressel responded on the same day, saying he will "get on it ASAP."
Two weeks later, the same attorney sent Tressel another email providing more details about the memorabilia and advising Tressel to keep his players away from Rife. The attorney adds the email was confidential, a defense Tressel used in his press conference.
Here's the emails, listed in chronological order (H/T Sports By Brooks).
Tressel was suspended for the first two games of the 2010 season and fined $250,000 as part of sanctions imposed by Ohio State on Tuesday.
For more on the Buckeyes, check out SB Nation's Along The Olentangy.
Jim Tressel spoke for a few moments during the press conference on the investigation into whether he misled NCAA investigators on when exactly he knew about the infractions committed by Terrelle Pryor and other Ohio State football players. Tressel claimed that he was not forthcoming about the timeline because he’d been told by an attorney that a federal drug trafficking investigation involving multiple Buckeyes players was ongoing, and that he should keep certain information confidential.
I may have missed a line or two, but here’s almost all of it:
Last spring practice, I received some emails regarding an ongoing federal criminal drug-trafficking case. And in those emails, and I think you may have them, I’m not sure, it was pretty graphically outlining some of the parties involved and was obviously of tremendous concern to me … It elicited obviously a different emotion than you typically get from someone who needs a hospital call or a visit. It kind of jogged in my mind some of the toughest losses i’ve ever had in coaching. I get a lot of good emails saying that people enjoy the job that our guys do or their professors not happy with their behavior in class.
This one was obviously much different than that. I’ve had a player murdered. I’ve had a player incarcerated. I’ve had a player get taken into the drug culture and lose his opportunity for a productive life. So it was tremendously concerning. Quite honestly, I was scared. Especially the fact that two of our current players were mentioned in the emails, and as we sit in homes, we talk about how we’re gonna take care of these young people, and we’re gonna treat them like they’re our own.
Admittedly I probably did not give quite as much thought to the potential NCAA part of things as I read it. My focus was on the well-being of the young people. 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. As I thought about a plan of action, the most immediate thing that I did is ramp up the discussions that we have about the importance of who you associate with, where you are, company you keep, and so forth.
[Video failed for a moment. Don’t think I missed too much.]
With the seriousness of what was discussed in the emails, and also the confidentiality component, we worked very hard to make it a teachable moment, and as time went on, in my mind what was most important was that we didn’t interfere with a federal investigation.
Confidentiality was requested by the attorney, so I followed that
When December came and we were given info from the Attorney General’s office that six of our athletes were involved, that was concerning. It was encouraging that no one was involved in any federal drug trafficking and there was no criminal investigation. That was a huge relief. At that time I knew there would be NCAA ramifications that we would deal with immediately, which we did.
I also felt during that entire [ordeal? Definitely missed a word] that I upheld the highest confidentiality that made it safer for our young people … I asked for a little advice as to how i should’ve taken this forward. I’ve learned that I probably needed to go to the legal counsel person at the university and get some help as to how you handle criminal investigations and confidentiality and perhaps gain the protection that you might need from within the process.
I’m disappointed that this happened at all. I take my responsibility for what we do at Ohio State seriously. And for the game of football. And I plan to grow form this, and I’m sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and didn’t do things as well as I could possibly do. I am pleased that the young people involved are safe. They’re not involved in any criminal activity. They’re all in college and they’re all going to graduate from Ohio State.
To me thats what it’s all about. But I understand that we’ll have sanctions, I will have sanctions. But the only thing that I’ve talked to our team about after there was discussion in the media last night, was a quote I had heard George Bush say that the most pathetic thing is a leader who’s looking for self-pity. So at no point in time in this moment or on the moments ahead with my team am I looking for anything other than doing what needs to be done.
Jim Tressel’s press conference began with a word by Ohio State Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith, who reminded attendees that the matter at hand is a different matter than the one involving Terrelle Pryor and other Ohio State players. This press conference is specifically a Tressel press conference.
Smith said in mid-January he asked Tressel about emails that came out after the Sugar Bowl and revealed Tressel knew about Pryor’s infractions earlier than he had previously claimed. He said the university and the NCAA spent a month investigating the Tressel case, meaning they were on it half as long as Yahoo! Sports.
Ohio State has self-reported a 10.1 violation, which is a major violation. A likely relevant clip of the broken rule:
Knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual’s institution false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation.
Jim Tressel has been suspended for the first two games of the Ohio St. Buckeyes 2011 football season and fined $250,000, according to a tweet by Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel. Tressel's press conference is set to begin shortly, during which we'll likely find out further details, but there's that.
That would mean Tressel, along with Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes players, would miss the first two games of the season. Those games are against Akron and Toledo, so Ohio State should be fine without him, but it's still a massive public relations dent for a coach who has held a stately reputation until now.
Tressel is under fire for allegedly being aware of infractions made by Pryor and others. A report by Yahoo! Sports alleged Tressel knew of the tattoos-for-rings scandal eight months longer than he had stated.
Ohio State University president Gordon Gee, athletic director Gene Smith, and head Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel will address the media tonight in a 7 p.m. conference concerning allegations that Tressel had eight months of prior knowledge of players selling off team memorabilia before the matter became public last December. Based on statements gathered from involved parties thus far, we have a few questions of our own we'd like to see addressed tonight.
• First, read Gee's statement to the Associated Press (emphasis added):
"We have reported a violation, a perceived violation, that we were having discussions with them (the NCAA) about the best way to handle it," Gee told The Associated Press while at the statehouse for the governor's State of the State speech. "We reported that immediately when we found it."
The way NCAA investigations are kept under tight wraps, the case against Tressel might have been brewing for months already, and it's impossible to tell right now when, exactly, this all came to light, but Gee's phrasing opens up a new possibility: Could Jim Tressel have been lying to the school and the NCAA? That he's even in this situation at all is almost unbelievable, but if one's possible, so's the other. (Also: "perceived violation"? Is that the equivalent of letting "I'm sorry you were offended" stand in for an apology?)
• What, exactly, went on in December between the NCAA, Jim Delany, and the University to make the five suspended players' participation in the Sugar Bowl possible, and how will this news affect the as-yet unserved sentences?
• In light of recent events, will the university continue to appeal for reduced suspensions for those players?
• How mad is A.J. Green right now?
• And how interesting is this December quote from Tressel now (from the initial Yahoo! Sports report):
"I think ultimately we as coaches feel as if the buck stops here – that we’re the ones that need to make things even more crystal clear than when a compliance officer might spend time with our team or an outside speaker or whatever it happens to be," he said. "The bottom line is that we feel as if that’s our responsibility, so obviously we don’t feel good about the fact that we fell short."
This being a closemouthed (well, mostly) university under fire, it's unlikely we'll receive any answers to any of this, but it's worth pondering.
Already taking heat for not responding last night to a late-breaking Yahoo! Sports report alleging that Jim Tressel played football players he knew to be selling Buckeyes memorabilia, Ohio State will respond with typical Big Ten alacrity by holding an evening press conference about 24 hours after they probably should have. Coach Tressel, the university president, and the athletic director will address the media at 7:00 p.m. CST, according to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Also from the Plain Dealer (whose logo we enjoy because it looks like the world's most electric thumb-wrestling battle), this little bit of context may make the situation so much worse:
An administration official said today that the school has been in frequent contact with the NCAA about the suspensions of six players for selling memorabilia, because the school is appealing those suspensions, and that the discussion of this latest allegation will be folded into those conversations.
Could "frequent contact" mean that Jim Tressel himself has had more than one conversation with the NCAA about this case? Did the timeline come up at all? Ifand Dan Wetzel's allegations are true, the more times Tressel had to sit down with NCAA investigators, the more opportunities he's had to snare himself in a web of lies.*
For more on this story and other Ohio State athletics news, visit our Buckeye brethren at SB Nation Cleveland and Along The Olentangy.
*All right, "web of lies" may be a bit dramatic, but this is, you'll recall, at its core a case about discount tattoos, and as such requires a free hand with the hyperbole to keep us from nodding off at our keyboards.
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.
The Jim Tressel report by Yahoo! Sports, which alleged the Ohio St. Buckeyes coach was aware of the infractions committed by Terrelle Pryor and others for far longer than claimed, was posted three hours after the university was approached for comment, according to co-author Charles Robinson.
Some had asserted Ohio State had only 30 minutes to comment before the article went live.
Along The Olentangy, SB Nation's Ohio State community, is preparing for the worst, but finds cause to question the report. The story's citation of a single, unnamed source and a lack of "paper trail" are giving Buckeyes fans hope that there's nothing going on in Columbus.
At issue is whether Tressel knew earlier than claimed about five of his players, including Terrelle Pryor, exchanging Big Ten title memorabilia for improper benefits. There's a difference of about eight months between the date claimed by Ohio State and the date reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Jim Tressel knew about the memorabilia scheme conducted by Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio St. Buckeyes players eight months earlier than originally claimed, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel. In December, the players were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 football season for selling Big Ten championship gear.
Someone reportedly contacted Tressel of the tattoos-for-rings scandal well before the NCAA found out. If the report is accurate, Tressel was aware of Pryor’s actions in April 2010, not December 2010, meaning he permitted the players to participate in the entire football season despite having committed infractions. Again, if the report is accurate.
It’s worth noting Ohio State notified the NCAA of the situation, though the investigation by the university, which preceded the NCAA notification, may have had very little to do with Tressel.
Read the Yahoo! Sports report for a detailed timeline of events.
As noted earlier, it was Ohio State that brought the news to the NCAA that Terrelle Pryor and four other players -- Devier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Daniel "Boom" Herron, and Mike Adams -- had violated NCAA rules by selling their championship rings and other apparel last year. They did so in part to get a lesser suspension for their players, but after the NCAA ruled that the four players would be out for the first five games of next season, Ohio State has decided to appeal.
In a press conference yesterday, coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith said they are hoping the NCAA will reduce the suspension because of "mitigating circumstances." Via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
In a news conference Thursday, on the same day the players were informed of their suspensions, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and football coach Jim Tressel said the school will appeal, hoping to have the suspensions reduced based on mitigating circumstances.
Smith said the five students sold their apparel to help their families, who were struggling through the recession. He blamed himself and the rest of the program for not making the players more aware that their actions violated NCAA bylaws, but he hopes the intentions of the players is enough to limit the suspensions.
Smith called the sanctions severe, and they said the players sold the merchandise for more than $7,000 in 2009 to help their families while unclear on the rules forbidding it. They became aware of the rules in November of 2009 after another compliance briefing.
Smith said the rules were made more clear to the players only after they already sold the merchandise.
On the surface, the idea of Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players profiting off their own memorabilia and awards is exactly what is wrong with the NCAA. There's a certain level of hypocrisy, according to some, in universities making millions of dollars off athletes, while athletes can't make a few bucks selling stuff they have earned.
But as of right now, those are the rules. Pryor and his four teammates -- Mike Adams, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas -- are in violation of NCAA rules for selling Big Ten championship rings and other apparel. Whether they knew the rules or not -- the incidents occurred in 2009 so maybe they did not -- they still broke them, and the NCAA has a punishment in place for them.
Ohio State ended up reporting the violations to the NCAA themselves, and while it endangered their football team for next year, it should be applauded, writes SB Nation's Ohio State blog Along The Olentangy.
This is not an issue of institutional control like at USC or UNC, but rather one of supreme selfishness by a handful of players. Ohio State self-investigated and then self-reported the violations to the NCAA, and it's very possible that they could have buried the information below the surface. Instead, they chose to endanger the eligibility of their star players and risk tarnishing their image to uphold the rules. An argument could be made that it was the wrong decision, but I applaud it. If collegiate athletics are to distinguish themselves from professional sports, it is the institutions that must bear the burden of responsibility in regulating player behavior. The NCAA is an organization with limited resources, tasked with investigating and managing the behavior of hundreds of athletic institutions and thousands of players. They are stretched thin, and they often rely on institutional cooperation when conducting their investigations. It should be institutional policy to cooperate, but as we've seen over the past year, that is not always the case.
This isn't to say the argument that NCAA athletes should be allowed to sell memorabilia is wrong, but as of right now, that action is prohibited, and when someone breaks the rules, punishments usually occur.
Terrelle Pryor and company will miss the first five game’s of the 2011 Ohio St. Buckeyes football season — assuming they stick around, of course. Fans of Big Ten teams besides the Buckeyes may be disappointed to note four of Ohio State’s first five games are in Columbus, and three are all but guaranteed. This is why you schedule Akron, y’all.
Akron Zips, Sept. 3: Though they may have been the nation’s worst team this year, Akron enters 2011 on a one-game winning streak, having shocked 2-10 Buffalo 22-14. There would be more honor in scheduling a top FCS school than in playing poor Akron.
Toledo Rockets, Sept. 10: Toledo is a decent enough MAC team, and even beat a supposed Big Ten team (Purdue) this year, so Tressel may need to leave the second-stringers in past halftime. The Rockets allowed more points to Northern Illinois than any other team did, and scored fewer on Arizona than any other team.
At Miami Hurricanes, Sept. 17: Competition begins in the hump week of Pryor’s suspension. Though Ohio State beat the Canes 36-24 in Columbus, a new coach and possibly quarterback may supplement Miami’s home field advantage here. Playing home games in Miami is technically more of a non-disadvantage than an advantage, but all right.
Colorado Buffaloes, Sept. 24: The Buffs were one of the Big 12’s worst teams this year, but without that meltdown against Kansas they would’ve been bowl eligible. Still, Ohio State is paying Colorado $1.4 million to play this game for a reason.
Michigan St. Spartans, Oct. 1: MSU fans are likely the most excited about today’s news, short of Michigan fans. Michigan State will lose a lot of talent this year — 11 starters, including star LB Greg Jones and three starting offensive linemen — and they haven’t traditionally been able to reload as swiftly as Ohio State has.
A 4-1 start is certainly not out of the question, nor is 5-0.
In light of Terrelle Pryor's suspension, we've speculated that the Ohio State quarterback may elect to forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. Pryor is among the highest-profile quarterbacks in college football, and Ohio State is among the nation's most storied programs. Where exactly does he rank in Buckeyes history?
At the very least, Pryor has etched his mark as the only Buckeye to lead his team in passing yards and rushing yards in the same season. In terms of passing yards, he's currently fifth in Ohio State history.
If Pryor were to keep up his season's pace at the Sugar Bowl on January 4th, and if he weren't suspended for part of next year and managed to put up as many yards, he would be on pace to finish with over 8,700 passing yards, shattering Art Schlichter's record. Now, if he were to return to the Buckeyes in 2011, assuming the same pace and accounting for the five games he'd miss, he would still eclipse the mark with over 7,600 yards.
Raw statistics aren't as telling as we'd like them to be, since not every Buckeye quarterback gets to play 13 games a season. Regardless, Pryor would have an outside shot at breaking Schlichter's record for most attempts (951). As it stands, Pryor already has 55 career touchdowns -- two short of Bobby Hoying's record -- and that doesn't account for his 17 rushing touchdowns.
Statistics and records won't motivate Pryor's decision to stay or leave, of course. We'll leave it for Buckeye fans to decide whether Pryor is the school's greatest quarterback, but the statistics indicate that, at the very least, he belongs in the discussion.
Five Ohio State football players have been suspended for the first give games of the 2011 season. Terrelle Pryor is obviously the biggest name involved here, with the other four being Devier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Daniel Herron, and Mike Adams. The official reason for the suspensions, according to a statement released by the NCAA, is that the students violated the NCAA’s preferential treatment bylaws.
Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said, “These are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university.”
The full breakdown of what the student sold, and the amounts they will have to pay back in addition to the suspensions is outlined in a statement from the NCAA:
Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring and Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50, while Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.
Solomon must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.
The five student-athletes will be allowed to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 4th.
The rumored Tattoogate investigation at Ohio State is not only real, but will have very real consequences for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Five Ohio State football players will miss the first five games of the 2011 season due to violating the NCAA's rules regarding preferential treatment of athletes. The five players named are quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Daniel "Boom" Herron, and Mike Adams. Each must repay the sum of $2,500--the estimated value of the prohibited benefit that qualified as preferential treatment--to a charity.
A sixth athlete, Jordan Whiting, will sit out one game and pay back $150 for discounted services of a lesser degree.
The suspensions for the illegal benefits will not begin until the 2011 season, allowing the Buckeyes to go at full strength into the Sugar Bowl with Arkansas. Even with concerns about the NFL's labor issues, it would be very surprising to see some of these players return for the next season, most especially quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Ohio State is investigating allegations that several of its football players bartered tattoos in exchange for autographs.
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting Wednesday night that the school was looking into the possible violations.
Sources indicate that some sort of discipline is likely to be handed down, but it is unclear when, or to what extent. It is possible that some players may not be available for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, but it's also possible that any discipline could get pushed back to the start of the 2011 regular season.
FOX 28 reports that the allegations involve "high-profile players" on the football team.
No specific players were named but when you think "high-profile," you immediately think of QB Terrelle Pryor. Pryor probably realized that as well, so he took Earth's foremost forum for legal debate...Twitter.
Case closed? Probably not.
As of right now, every player on the team is still eligible for the the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4. Keep an eye on OSU blog Along The Olentangy for updates.
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