We interrupt our regularly scheduled naval gazing to bring you this update.
As you may remember, the Four Letter Network sued the Ohio State University to gain access to documents that it felt were being shielded from public view. I’m sure they were only interested in getting the truth out to the masses.
The University’s decision was based on the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act, which limits student information being released without the student’s permission. ESPN held that emails regarding the relationship between Terelle Pryor and Ted Sarniak did not meet the standard of “educational records”, but the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed-
Because, for the most part, Ohio State established that FERPA and the attorney-client privilege prohibited the disclosure of the requested records, we deny the writ to that extent. For those limited records that should have been disclosed—at Respondent’s Evidence, Vol. III, Part 2, pages 668, 829-835, 859- 863, 999-1001, and 1009-1012, following the redaction of personally identifiable information, that is, the names of the student-athlete, his parents, his parents’ addresses, and the person associated with the student-athlete mentioned therein— and were thus not exempt from disclosure based on FERPA, however, we grant the writ.
We also deny ESPN’s request for attorney fees.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the large number of educational advocates and groups that came to the defense of Ohio State’s FERPA interpretation. If you’d care to read the entire ruling, here ’tis: State ex rel. ESPN v. Ohio State Univ., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-2690.
In an email from Dan Wallenberg, the University has also issued a response.
Ohio State appreciates the clarity given today by the Ohio Supreme Court affirming the university’s interpretation of federal student privacy laws. Our student athletes are treated the same way as all of our 64,000 students, and we take seriously our obligation to protect the confidentiality of all of our students’ education records. At the same time, the university also takes seriously its obligation to provide public information in accordance with Ohio law. The university provided ESPN with thousands of pages of records during the course of our NCAA investigation, and as now affirmed by a unanimous court, it acted responsibly in responding to the many varied and broad public record requests it received.
It’s interesting that the four letter network has taken to suing Ohio State while simultaneously trying to profit from their brand.
At any rate, this is good Tuesday news. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Cee Lo to listen to.
Well, that was fast… Here’s what we know (updated as available)
The meeting lasted 3.5 hours for reference, USC’s hearing was 3 days (more programs under investigation)
Ohio State will donate the $338,000 they received from the conference’s award from their participating in the Sugar Bowl to local charities. No word on whether ESPN will forfeit their ad revenue from the game.
Tressel made a brief statement after the meeting-
They were well prepared and will now go about their work in deliberations. Again, I would like to apologize to the Buckeye nation, most especially to the players, staff and fans who remain so dear to me.
I have no further statement at this time.
Much more, and updates after the jump.
We’ll have much more on this later, but the NCAA today has released it’s case summary into the investigation regarding “Tatoogate”, the Jim Tressel coverup, and the allegations made by Sports Illustrated’s article.
In the summary, the NCAA indicated that there were no additional violations found, and (most importantly)-
Considering the institution’s rules education and monitoring efforts, the enforcement staff did not believe a failure to monitor charge was appropriate in this case.
Additionally, the University released the transcripts from Jim Tressel’s interview with the NCAA- interesting reading, and we’ll have more comments after we get a fuller look.
But in the short term, this is fantastic news as it means that the sanctions resulting from this matter may not be much greater than the University has recommended, although fans won’t know for sure until after the August 12th hearing.
No news as of yet in regards to the allegations that Terrelle Pryor may have received improper benefits from signing objects for a Columbus area photographer, or that he might have received free golf from the same person.
However, this is obviously a day where Ohio State fans can feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders… and a moment where their response to much of the mainstream media might echo that of Mr. Green.
As we mentioned earlier, the Ohio State Athletic Department today released their response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, and submitted recommended sanctions for the transgressions.
One thing to be clear of- These are the University’s response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations. While that may be obvious, let me also express the converse- These are NOT the university’s response to any other allegations, founded or dis-proven, that have been raised by Sports Illustrated (to an extent), ESPN, The Dispatch, That one guy on the fan-board you subscribe to, or Something that your mom’s mail carrier’s girlfriend’s podiatrist’s veterinarian told them.
The University is adamant in this document that-
Information was reported to the University and the enforcement staff subsequent to the Notice of Allegations that still is being reviewed. This review continues and the University will report any additional violations if necessary in the future.
And given the fact that the University has been quick to respond thus far, there’s little reason to doubt this is true.
I’d encourage readers to look through the entirety of the documentation- if nothing else, it will help prepare you for future conversations here and with friends regarding this matter. They are incredibly thorough.
For the purposes of this article, though, I’m going to be giving you the “bullet points” from these documents, as well as some initial thoughts and commentary (noted in green). First up, let’s take a look at Jim Tressel’s response to the NCAA:
It’s a brief document, and I imagine that there will be more questions for Tressel during the meeting in August with the NCAA, which the University has said he will be attending in spite of his “retirement“.
Update- All documents in the University’s response to the NCAA are now available online.
Update 2- Gene Smith defends the proposed sanctions.
Today, the Ohio State University submitted its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, including several self-administered penalties, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The Dispatch, is reporting that the University is placing the football program on probation for two years and is vacating all wins (including the Sugar Bowl) from the 2010 season.
While admitting that the Athletic Department technically falls under the category of “repeat offender” (stemming from issues with the basketball program in 2004, as well as Troy Smith receiving improper benefits in the form of $500), it holds that the circumstances warrant the recommended response.
According to the Dispatch, the University is not recommending or administering stricter punishment (post-season bans, lost scholarships) due to the fact that the violations were contained to former coach Jim Tressel, who the University asked to resign. Interestingly enough, Tressel will be paid for the month of June and will not be asked to pay the $250,000 fine initially levied by the University. He will also appear at the August 12th hearing in Indianapolis. Update- here is the agreement between the University and Coach Tressel.
It is after that hearing that the final decision regarding this situation will be made- these are self imposed sanctions, and should be seen as a “baseline” for NCAA response. It is speculated that the final tally will include post-season bans and scholarship losses, as well as significant sanctioning for the former Ohio State coach.
One additional finding in the Dispatch’s report- Another student-athlete was found to have received discounted tattoos in exchange for memorabilia, and has been suspended. The University has appealed to the NCAA for his reinstatement- at this time his identity is unknown.
This comes at a time where the University is also changing some of their protocol for monitoring student athletes, as outlined in an earlier Dispatch article. These changes include-
- Get better documentation of car purchases. To ensure that athletes are not getting inappropriate deals, dealers or players would provide records detailing transactions. Currently, athletes report how they obtained cars, but they don’t provide any supporting documentation.
- Set a time limit on “loaner cars.” The university would limit how long a student-athlete can borrow a car from a dealer or individual. Currently, Ohio State does not set a limit.
- Audit vehicles several times a year. Ohio State would check parking lots used by athletes to ensure their cars are registered with the university. Unregistered cars would be ticketed.
- Check everyone who receives game passes from football or men’s basketball players. At the beginning of the school year, students would be required to provide a list of anyone who might receive passes to games. The compliance department would talk to each person to determine his or her relationship to the student. Currently, Ohio State does random checks.
- Examine students’ budgets. A new software program will help officials guide students on how to manage their money. Ohio State officials say the main goal is to educate students, some of whom have never had a checking account before college, but the software also could help generate red flags about students who are living beyond their means.
Many of these recommendations were already in the works following the earlier audit of the compliance office.
In addition was this interesting tidbit-
Ohio State’s compliance department says much of its focus is on educating students and coaches about NCAA rules to avoid violations. But they say a big focus now is to address the people outside of Ohio State.
“The people who are trying to get close to (students) for unscrupulous reasons are pretty talented and skilled at what they do … so their ability to persuade and influence is pretty doggone good. … That to me is one of our biggest weaknesses and where our focus is,” Smith said.
To get the outside community involved, for instance, the university plans to work with car dealers who agree to provide records about sales. Athletes interested in buying cars could check the university’s list of participating dealers to simplify the effort to follow NCAA rules. Students who buy elsewhere would be required to provide the records themselves.
Given that the compliance office was already working with dealers, which resulted in the “one dealer sold a lot of Buckeyes cars!!1!l1!l” crisis, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
But what I’m most intrigued by is the education of the “people outside of Ohio State”- since I don’t believe that many of them will care. Most of the things being investigated aren’t accidental (Like Nebraska’s “recommended reading” problem), but actual attempts on the part of both parties to disregard NCAA and OSU guidelines.
Or, in the words of Ray Small- “”They explain the rules to you, but as a kid you’re not really listening to all of them rules. You go out and you just, people show you so much love, you don’t even think about the rules. You’re just like ?Ah man, it’s cool.’”
And all the “education” in the world isn’t going to solve that.
We’ll continue to bring you coverage of this as it develops, including full coverage and commentary as the official response is made available to the Media.
Quick hits from Friday/Saturday AM
“There is no scintilla of evidence related to 90 percent of those kids listed in the Sports Illustrated article that they did anything wrong,” James said. “That’s the way it’s going to turn out, I believe. It’s just irresponsible reporting.”
Let me translate: Coaches now have a lower limit as to how unethical and morally reprehensible they can be. Feel better? This was sort of like the real SEC passing a rule: “We recognize that insider trading is a problem. So we’re going to cap profits from said illegal transactions at $2.7 million.”
“So I’m very pleased that the league is where it is today, and I’m proud of the step we’ve taken really in a leadership role nationally to deal with this bigger concept of roster management.”
Actually, the leadership role in this was taken in 1956, when the Big Ten banned signing more recruits than a team had openings for. Fifty five years ago.
Unfortunately, the “here’s today’s updates” is going to become a regular feature here at tBBC. It is what it is. That being said, we’re looking for a picture/logo or even a new title to help distinguish this from the “normal” SBP updates- leave your recommendations in the comments!
Other Buckeye News
Today was supposed to be the day before the storm. The day before the story was unfolded in a Sports Illustrated article about the dubious acts of Ohio State’s head football coach. A full timeline was to be laid out to the nation dating back before Jim Tressel’s time at Ohio State.
Now we jump forward to the reality that is handling the pressure of media, friends and administration of the university.
Jim Tressel has resigned as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Just as quickly and undeniably odd as the downturn for the coach started, this Memorial Day marks the end of a football era.
Tressel, whose resignation letter was accepted by the university today, will go down as one of the most peculiar cases in NCAA history. His winning percentage was better than the legendary Woody Hayes. He brought home a championship, and was runner up in two others. But since December a new light has shined on the man who went 9-1 against Michigan in his tenure. No matter what is painted on the canvas though, Tressel made it clear in his resignation that his love for the fans and his team is the number one reason in stepping back.
“After meeting with University officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach,” said Tressel. “The appreciation that Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable.”
Upon receiving the resignation, President Gordon Gee decided after meeting with the board of trustees that this was the best thing for the University.
“In consultation with the senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, I have been actively reviewing matters attendant to our football program, and I have accepted Coach Tressel’s resignation,” said President E. Gordon Gee. “The University’s enduring public purposes and its tradition of excellence continue to guide our actions.”
The tradition and excellence will now be handed down to one Luke Fickell for at least one season. The interim tag will be slapped on and after this upcoming football season, a new head football coaching search will begin.
Athletics Director Gene Smith, who had full confidence in Jim Tressel through this whole stretch, now places that faith in a young and hungry football coach.
“We look forward to refocusing the football program on doing what we do best – representing this extraordinary University and its values on the field, in the classroom, and in life,” said Smith. “We look forward to supporting Luke Fickell in his role as our football coach. We have full confidence in his ability to lead our football program.”
In a whirlwind of transgression, the man we have known as the senator leaves this program with no power or authority, and his tail trapped between his legs.
Jim Tressel will always be remembered for what he brought to Ohio State University’s football program.
Let’s just hope its the championships, winning records and life changing moments that are embraced over time, and not the last six months that have been a heartache for fans, players and Tressel himself.
Today was like an unexpected breakup or divorce. You don’t want it to happen, and things could definitely work out. But because of outside circumstances out of your control, it’s time to move on.