After much speculation and rumors, the article that possibly expedited the end of the Ohio State careers of Jim Tressel (and Terrelle Pryor?) went online at Sports Illustrated this evening.
In it, author George Dohrmann raps up a six week investigation into Ohio State football and other aspects of life in the WHAC. As you can imagine, it’s not flattering.
Sports Illustrated is alleging that the number of student athletes who have exchanged memorabilia for tattoos is actually 28, and not the 6 that were originally named. After interviewing former employees at two Columbus area tattoo parlors, this number also includes nine Buckeyes currently with the program- Jamaal Berry, C.J. Barnett, Bo DeLande, Dorian Bell, Zach Domicone, John Simon, Storm Klein, Etienne Sabino, and Nathan Williams
Also in the piece, SI alleges that some of the exchanges of memorabilia was for marijuana, and that players often partook while they were at the various tattoo establishments.
Updated – The punishments at this time are speculative only. No “actual” punishments have been handed out to OSU.
Update 2- FOX Sports Ohio has a copy of the letter of allegations (sidebar link), as well as expectations regarding the University’s response to the NCAA
The Dispatch is reporting this morning that the NCAA has finally released its “Notice of Allegations” to the Ohio State Athletic Department. The suddenness of this release is a bit of a surprise considering how little has come out of the investigation since light was first shed in early March. The good news, however, is that Buckeye fans are no longer in the dark in regards to what the NCAA is thinking.
The NCAA has decided that the University as a whole has not committed a “failure to monitor” nor suffered a “lack of institutional control”. This is very good news for Buckeye faithful, considering the fact that the NCAA was considering on labeling the Buckeyes as a “repeat offender” with the violations of Troy Smith and the Basketball program only 6 years ago. One of those penalties tied to “repeat offender” status may have been a deathblow to the OSU program.
As it is, the NCAA states:
Tressel was guilty of ethical misconduct when he knowingly provided false information to the NCAA in certifying that he knew of no potential violations by his players and failed to inform OSU officials.
Ohio State fielded ineligible players last season when starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and others competed despite Tressel’s knowledge of their misconduct. NCAA bylaws call for immediate suspensions.
Here’s how things stand in terms of the expected punishments (based on previous, similar, NCAA Allegations) on top of what has already been dealt out.
It is worth noting that no punishments have actually been handed down, nor have been even suggested. All of these punishments are reasonable speculation based on other schools’ penalties.
It is also worth pointing out that the issues with the players are resolved. After their 5 game suspension (and requirement to pay back the money to charity) they will be allowed to play again.
Ohio State University posted their own “article” on this, which you can find here.
Stay tuned for more.
This afternoon, the NCAA finished their review of the appeal of the five game suspension for the student athletes at the beginning of the 2011 season.
Terelle Pryor, Dan Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas were sanctioned for selling gear and award merchandise in exchange for tatoos and/or money in December 2010; the were allowed by the NCAA to participate in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. The appeal was based on the possibility that the NCAA would reduce the five game sanctions to the four games that other athletes received in 2010 for similar circumstances; most notably Georgia’s A.J. Green. Ohio State’s players received an additional game due to their signing compliance documents t the beginning of the 2010 seaon that stated that they had not violated NCAA rules; this was an additional transgression.
The NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement has upheld the staff decision for five football student-athletes from The Ohio State University.
According to this decision, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas must sit out the first five games of the 2011 season for selling awards, gifts and university apparel, as well as receiving improper benefits in 2009. These student-athletes must also repay money and benefits ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
“While we are disappointed that our appeal request was denied, we respect the NCAA and accept its ruling,” said Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president and athletics director. “The players are sorry for the disappointment they have caused, will learn from their mistakes, and will strive to earn the confidence and support of everyone associated with the university through their future conduct.”
“The university remains steadfast in its commitment to continually improve the compliance education process,” said Dr. John Bruno, faculty athletics representative to the Big Ten and NCAA and Ohio State professor of psychology. “We believe that we do a good job in educating our more than 900 student-athletes, but we strive to do better to help them make good decisions.”
The reinstatement committee is the final appeal opportunity. The independent committee is composed of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. It can reduce or remove the conditions, but cannot increase the conditions imposed by the staff.
Reinstatement decisions are made based on the collective facts of the case, withholding guidelines developed by the reinstatement committee, as well as any mitigating factors presented by the university.
In response, Coach Jim Tressel has asked that his suspension for not reporting this through appropriate channels be extended from two games to five, to match the amount that his student athletes have been given. In a statement from the University, Jim Tressel said,
Throughout this entire situation my players and I have committed ourselves to facing our mistakes and growing from them; we can only successfully do that together. I spoke with Athletics Director Smith, and our student‐athletes involved, and told them that my mistakes need to share the same game sanctions. Like my players, I am very sorry for the mistakes I made. I request of the university that my sanctions now include five games so that the players and I can handle this adversity together.
These sanctions have been handed out by the University, hence the verbiage within. AD Smith responded,
Coach Tressel has requested that he sit out the first five games of the 2011 season. I have accepted his request and we are taking action to notify the NCAA. Until the NCAA has completed its investigation, we will not be publicly discussing the details of this case.
There has not been a timeline announced for the NCAA’s review of this matter, although many imagine that it may come this summer.
It has been noted that this event (the NCAA’s ruling on the appeal) was the planned time that the University was to announce the situation with Coach Tressel (the one it’s been investigating since January, and that the Yahoo report accelerated). Given this, it may be appropriate to speculate that the plan all along was for Coach Tressel to be suspended at the same amount as his players, but that the earlier announcement led to an estimate of appropriate sanctions.
We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.
Update – For the full press conference video, please visit OhioStateBuckeyes.com’s report on the conference.
Jim Tressel, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee sat down this evening to discuss the news released in a Yahoo Sports report. That press conference was aired over the internet at for everyone capable of sitting down and stomaching what was said. For those who missed/skipped the presser, here’s a run down of what happened.
It has become clear that what Yahoo Sports discovered was not the violations themselves, but the University self-investigation of the violations committed by Jim Tressel. It turns out that in April of 2010, Jim Tressel received emails regarding information on a Federal Drug Trafficking case. Those emails implied there were potential NCAA violations regarding 2 unnamed student athletes at Ohio State. Tressel, however, either did not notice the implication, or refused to face the implication.
The press release does not make the connection clear between the two cases. Despite that, it is clear that the cases were linked in the sense that the emails Tressel received involved the Tat-gate situation. It is also clear that the Yahoo report was a leak of the investigation that required the school to come clean before they were ready.
The NCAA was reportedly notified of the situation on February 3rd and sent special investigators to the University on February 8th. It is obvious that the University did everything they needed to by NCAA bylaws to solve this problem as quickly as possible.
The press release states a set of self-punishments:
As part of its self-report, the university has self-imposed the following sanctions: a public reprimand and apology; a two-game suspension; attendance at a compliance seminar; and a $250,000 fine.
Of course, the whole investigation itself has not be concluded, so we won’t know the full resolution of this situation for at least several weeks yet. However, this is the report that the University is sending to the NCAA following their investigation.
As of now, the Yahoo news story has functionally concluded in about the best way it could have. Rather than this being a new thing for the University to face, it is something that they’ve already been dealing with for a while now. While it’s a small comfort in the end, it’s substantially better many imagined it could have been.
Stay tuned to the Buckeye Battle Cry for more as the story unfolds.