Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel meekly “resigned” early Memorial Day.
He had to go, plain and simple. The only thing is this still will not spare Ohio State from the wrath of the NCAA (more on that in a moment).
What transpired at Ohio State was crazy.
In December, five Ohio State players—including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor—were found to have received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor who was the subject of a federal drug-trafficking case. Tressel had signed an NCAA compliance form in September saying he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by athletes. Investigators later found that Tressel had learned in April 2010 about the players’ involvement with the parlor owner, Edward Rife.
Sports Illustrated reported that the memorabilia-for-tattoos violations actually stretched back to 2002, Tressel’s second season at Ohio State, and involved at least 28 players—22 more than the university has acknowledged. Those numbers include, beyond the six suspended players, an additional nine current players as well as other former players whose alleged wrongdoing might fall within the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations on violations.
And if that wasn’t bad enough news for Ohio State, the Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that Pryor is the subject of an inquiry by the NCAA and Ohio State regarding cars and other improper benefits he may have received.
Memo to the “Sweater Vest” and other coaches in collegiate athletics: you do not lie to two entities – the government and the NCAA. The NCAA is not amused by lies – ask Bruce Pearl and Dez Bryant. Had the Sweater Vest told the truth and not covered this up there would have been at the most minor sanctions against the program, probably in the form of missing games from the offending players. Most of all, the Sweater Vest would not be out of a job.
The buck does not stop at Tressel. Other people that will be in line of the firing squad may include athletics director Gene Smith and president Dr. Gordon Gee. The way Sports Illustrated laid out the violations, it appears to be more of a culture of enablers (which starts at the top) thing than a few players here and there.
Now as for Ohio State, I think they will be hammered by the NCAA. The transgressions at Ohio State was worse than what went on at USC. Since USC lost scholarships and were banned from bowls for a couple of years, I expect Ohio State to get close to the “Death Penalty” of SMU in the 1980s.
Any punishment less should prompt USC to sue the hell out of the NCAA for inconsistent treatment.