Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Mar 2011

Jim Tressel Suspended, Fined By Ohio State

In the lead up to the Ohio State Buckeyes' BCS bowl game a few months ago, several key players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Dan Herron were discovered to have exchanged memorabilia for free tattoos at a Columbus tattoo parlor. The program allowed the players to play in the January 4th Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, but also levied five-game suspensions for the start of the 2011 season for each player. Head coach Jim Tressel coaxed each player into returning to school for the fall.

On Tuesday, the University announced a two-game suspension and $250,000 fine for Tressel. Tressel first learned of the tattoo parlor information in April of 2010 and failed to report the matter to anyone at the University or NCAA, a violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1. Matt Hinton (aka Dr. Saturday) provides a summary of the implications and further questions that remain unanswered.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 08 Mar 2011

68 comments, Last at 11 Mar 2011, 5:13pm by Dean


by thewedge :: Tue, 03/08/2011 - 10:59pm

Jim Tressel running a dirty program? I'm shocked! Shocked I say!

by djanyreason :: Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:05pm

Its amazing that exchanging memorabilia for tattoos counts as a dirty program. If there's something dirty, its the NCAA's cartel.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:11pm

Breaking rules that your competition is abiding by counts as a dirty program. We can rail against how immoral and unethical those rules are in the first place, but the fact remains that if your competition is following those rules and you are not, then you are breaking your agreement in order to get an unfair and illegal advantage.

Besides, this fine and suspension aren't about trading memorabilia for tattoos. They're about failure to report rule violations, as well as potentially lying to the NCAA when they can to investigate said violations.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:00am

By that standard pretty much every program is dirty in some way or another, because they all have rule violations. Hell, the Heisman trophy winning, BCS title game MVP face of college football still has serious questions hanging over his head.

And what the hell kind of "unfair" advantage was gained by some college kids selling their personal stuff for cash and a tattoo?

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:32am

In response to your question about unfair advantages, what happens when a booster at Ohio State can pay a football player, say, $50,000 for a jersey, which obviously cannot be matched by somebody playing for Toledo, or Ohio University? That's why there are rules about selling memorabilia, because it's just another way to pay players. If you hide the payments behind selling ridiculous stuff, then it becomes a legal way to pay players, which in turn makes recruiting even more unfair then it already is.

I'm in no way saying I agree with how things are done, but this is the rationale behind why the NCAA does not allow players to sell their game-worn jerseys for money.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 10:05am

But that's just a matter of timing. If the players had waited 2 years until they were out of school they could sell whatever they like, to whoever they like, for whatever price they like. Its a stupid distinction, and it serves to further hightlight the whole hypocrisy of the situation.

Why do top players go to schools like OSU? Because they want to get to the NFL and cash in, and going to OSU will help them in that goal more than going to Toledo! So its ok that we lure players to certain school with promises of vast wealth, so long as that wealth is delayed 3-4 years.

by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:16pm

I agree that by going to OSU, players are already increasing their likelihood of making it big in the NFL. My point is just that as it is a rule right now that you can't receive money for playing at the collegiate level, selling game worn jerseys is a way that athletes and boosters have been trying to get around it for years, and is punishable. Again, I don't really agree with this rule, but this is the rule. I think the NCAA is a corrupt monopoly, but what are you going to do? In order to play in their games, you have to abide by their rules.

I don't really understand your argument about the 'timing' of the situation. It happened while they were still students, which is why it is a violation of the rules. Of course if they had waited 2 years, it wouldn't have been a problem, but they didn't, and that's why we are talking about it now.

I bring up the discrepency between OSU and schools like Toledo because there already is a huge difference between them that adds to the dimensions of recruiting. The NCAA is trying to make the feild as level as possible (even if they aren't trying to make the championship games as level as possible), and by outlawing the payment of players, under the table or behind the back included, then that is a rule that must be adhered to. I know that a top recruit will choose OSU over Toledo 95% of the time, but that is because of things like prestige, likelihood of future success, and how much your parents can make off of you, not because of illegal things like you receiving money, getting awesome jobs that pay egregious amounts for doing nothing, or your parents getting a brand new house. At least, it shoulnd't be. Besides, in today's age, with scouting going as deep as it does, kids from just about any FBS school have a chance to go number one. Look at (again, not saying they should have gone number 1, just that they did) David Carr and Alex Smith.

by Theo :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 3:57pm

Either way.
It shows how broken the system is.
Oh wait, they're running profit? Nevermind.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:26am

I don't really understand your argument about the 'timing' of the situation. It happened while they were still students, which is why it is a violation of the rules. Of course if they had waited 2 years, it wouldn't have been a problem, but they didn't, and that's why we are talking about it now.

You don't understand how utterly ridiculous that is? You're free to cash in on your time playing college football, you just can't do it while you're still a student. So its not the cashing in that's a problem, its the fact that they cashed in just a little too early.

The NCAA is trying to make the feild as level as possible

They want no such thing. The only thing the NCAA cares about is is making money and holding onto their sham 'non profit' status.

Besides, in today's age, with scouting going as deep as it does, kids from just about any FBS school have a chance to go number one. Look at (again, not saying they should have gone number 1, just that they did) David Carr and Alex Smith.

That's pretty weak. The fact is that if you took two identical players and sent one to Toledo and one to OSU, the OSU player will get more attention and be drafted higher at least 9 times out of 10.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 4:17am

Who says he doesn't understand how ridiculous that is? What does the ridiculousness have to do with anything?

See, there are these things called "rules". When you break them, you deal with these things called "consequences". If you break them intentionally, with the full benefit of forethought, you get called a "cheater". This is just as true whether you're breaking the ridiculous rules or the non-ridiculous rules.

I mean, personally I think it's ridiculous that things like prostitution and marijuana are illegal. With that said, if I break the "rules" outlawing marijuana use and prostitution, I will still be a "criminal". There will be a mark on my "criminal record" stating that I broke a "law". There are no asterisks, there's no fine print stating "... but it was one of the ridiculous ones".

These rules are on the books. All NCAA football programs have agreed to abide by them. All NCAA football coaches have agreed to abide by them. All NCAA football players have agreed to abide by them. The Ohio State University, Jim Tressell, and the assorted players involved did not abide by these rules. Therefore, the players are cheaters. Jim Tressell is a cheater. The Ohio State football program is a dirty football program. I really, really fail to see what about this simple concept is apparently so hard to grasp.

This wasn't some sort of elaborate protest about the ridiculousness of the rules. This wasn't an instance of civil disobedience. This was players knowing full well that they weren't supposed to be doing what they were doing, and then doing it anyway. It was a coach knowing full well that his players shouldn't have been doing what they were doing, and attempting to bury the evidence in hopes that it never saw the light of day and he never had to deal with the consequences.

by mental :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 4:36pm

Did you try to get a driver's license when you were 15? What about trying to join the Army or vote when you were 17?

Was it "utterly ridiculous" when you couldn't even though you were trying to do these things "just a little too early"?

by Dean :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 5:13pm

"Was it "utterly ridiculous" when you couldn't even though you were trying to do these things "just a little too early"?"

Yes, it was.

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else (deliver me, Tyler!). The rules apply to everyone. Including you and including me.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 3:24pm

If they were regular students they could have sold their stuff to anybody, at any time, for any amount they wished. But they're not regular students. You can rail against the rule, but it's still a rule. It's no different than trying to get out of a speeding ticket by telling the cop the speed limit really should be raised--maybe that's true, but it's irrelevant to you getting a ticket right now.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 5:30am

Were they performance enhancing tattoos? Otherwise I fail to see the unfair and illegal advantage that OSU were getting.

That being said, I agree with your second paragraph. Tressel's suspension is more defendable than that of the players - if he wasn't reporting this you can wonder what else he wasn't reporting, so yeah, that's more fair enough as a suspension. But taking 5 games out of a college players career (that's effectively 1/10th of their entire college career) for getting tattoos? Especially bearing in mind that these aren't usual college students, they are ones that are likely to have even less time than a normal student to work a job to do the things they want.

I know its against the rules, but whats that thing about an unjust law being no law at all.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 3:29pm

Can any student get a free tattoo in a barter like this? If the answer is "yes" then I'll side with you about this being unfair in this case. But my guess is it was a special favor to football players, which is why it's a rule in the first place. And the rule isn't really in place to guard against tattoos, but more for cases where a booster would decide that he was willing to trade a car for the kid's pants.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 6:31am

Breaking rules that your competition is abiding by counts as a dirty program.

You are technically correct--the WORST kind of correct. Way to miss the point completely!

by thewedge :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:20am

Ohio State has had over 350 violations since Tressel took over. Clarett, Troy Smith, and Pryor's being notable ones (weird how they're some of the biggest stars he's had over the period). He even got into trouble at Youngstown State. I'm not sure what more evidence we need really.

by dreameagle :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:13pm

instead of rationalising like a hairless nut, the question you should be asking is what else was exchanged, and for what...

it's not a great leap, save for those trapped by choice in Ohkansas, to trading recruitments for shares in thoroughbreds--or in your case, probably Geurnseys;

by Jonathon (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 7:29pm

I read the emails and that's what got me--Here's Tressel being informed that MULTIPLE players have traded valuable items like Big 10 Championship rings to a tattoo shop run by a guy who's a drug dealer. And he doesn't appear to talk to the players about it immediately and NEVER talks to the school. He seems pretty at ease about the whole thing.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:07pm

This is a huge black eye for the Buckeyes and the Big 10. During the Big 10's recent struggles on the national stage, its supporters (from casual fans in the bar all the way up to the league commissioner himself) have always maintained that at least they acted with more integrity and were held to a higher standard. Now, there's a lot that is admirable about how the Big 10 conducts its business (I think the league's oversigning rules are far and away the best in the nation and that other leagues should look to adopt something similar), but this shows again that there are no major sports powers that are any more ethical than any other. Ohio State players cheated (the second time this decade they've been involved in a pay-for-play scandal), and the coaching staff knew about it but turned a blind eye because they cared more about winning football games than following the rules. I don't necessarily blame them, especially given the pressure that is on the coaches and players to win at that level, but it really underscores that there are no "model programs".

This reminds me a lot of the early 2000s Patriots. When they first started winning superbowls, everyone was talking about the "Patriot Way", and how they were all unselfish, how they worked harder, how there were no egos or stars, how they were just plain better than the rest of the league. Little did we know at the time that the "Patriot Way" included videotaping other teams' signals.

I don't think my favorite sports teams are model programs (my Broncos have lost two draft picks for cap violations, my Gators have had a huge spate of arrests over the last 4 years). I'm okay with that- I root for them to play football, not to set an example for me and my family to follow in life. I'm just wary of anyone who thinks that their team really has more integrity than anyone else's.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:05am

How exactly is this "cheating"? In what way was the Ohio State Buckeye football team made one iota better because of this stupid scandal? Were these magic tattoos, which made the players bigger, faster or stronger? How did this lure any players to campus and away from rival schools, given that they were already at OSU? Finally, if this was such a huge freaking deal, then why did the pearl clutchers at the NCAA let these guys play in the Sugar Bowl in the first place?

by Lance :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:56am

I'm going to agree with Sjt that this isn't the rule violation where the big-shot high school kid gets a car for going to State-U, or his parents get jobs with the alumni association, or whatever.

I couldn't care less about Big-10 football-- and have little rooting interest in college sports at all, so I don't have a horse in this race. So I feel like the level of the accusations brought up in this story is pretty low. They all already play for Ohio State. It's not like selling a jersey for a tattoo was a selling point that led the kids there over some other school. Moreover, this isn't the case of the school or some school official funneling cash their way.

The NCAA is so draconian that if I were a champion chess player, it would deny my ability to both earn endorsements as a chess player and also play football. I find the whole thing to be stupid, and am stunned that the NCAA continues to hold sway as it does over these universities.

by Purds :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 8:17am

If the violations were so insignificant, than why didn't Tressel report them?

by Lance :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 9:31am

Don't misunderstand me: I'm sure that there were clear violations, and Tressel didn't report them because he didn't want to get in trouble. That said, I personally see a big difference between bribing a high school kid to come play at your school vs. a kid already attending your school giving away a trophy he won (or autographs, or whatever) in exchange for some new tats.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 3:36pm

I agree that there is a difference and I hear stories about poor kids on scholarship not being able to work jobs and the like and think the NCAA has lost its mind. But, then I realize that the only way they really can enforce any of these rules is if they're unambiguous and applicable in all situations.

If you started trying to enforce these sorts of things case-by-case, you'd quickly have total chaos. Say the NCAA decided there wasn't anything wrong in this case...what happens next month when some kid at Michigan does something similar and the NCAA decides he actually DID cross the line? And where would the line be? Tattoos are okay...what about cash? What if he trades half his wardrobe for a car? If you leave any opening, it's going to be exploited.

by Whatev :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 4:53am

If they can't sell their autographs doesn't that mean they can't trade them for goods and services? Wouldn't that mean it'd technically be a NCAA rules violation for a football player to sleep with sorority girls, because they'd be trading on their reputation as football stars to get something?

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:31pm

You are correct. The big-shot high school kid getting cars for going to OSU is not the particular issue in question. That is a separate issue with the NCAA.

No, no, not the big-shot high school kid getting cars in the past for going to OSU. That's also a separate issue.

The NCAA hardly "holds sway" over the big schools. It only does so over the small ones. As others have said, this is a pattern that existed under Tressel even at lower levels (which is somewhat perplexing: I didn't realize I-AA football was important enough to justify cheating, but then this is Ohio, and football does seem to be very, very important in Ohio), and has existed at OSU virtually the entire time Tressel has been there.

The penalties for the coach have been minimal; for the program, minimal; for the players involved, rather substantial, because they are the ones who need the most support from the NCAA and ironically get the least.

Draconian? Ha. You must not be familiar with USC. If the NCAA were truly draconian, USC wouldn't even have a football program.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 9:52pm

Re: "I didn't realize I-AA football was important enough to justify cheating."

My mother was a college professor for 15 years at a community/junior (its classification changed during her time there) college in the middle of nowhere in Colorado that has about 750 students. The school had a football program for 2 years. Multiple members of the coaching staff threatened that they would "have her fired" if she did not change players' grades. (This is an aside, but I should point out that she did not change their grades or get fired.) I'm afraid that this incident shows that there's no such thing as football that's not important enough to justify cheating.

by Sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:33am

I didn't realize I-AA football was important enough to justify cheating

You cheat in order to win at that level, so that then you can get hired at the next level. Tressel didn't make the jump to OSU because he wears nice sweater vests, he was hired because of all his winning at the lower level.

Draconian? Ha. You must not be familiar with USC. If the NCAA were truly draconian, USC wouldn't even have a football program.

Bull. One player for USC received illegal benefits from an outside source not connected to the university. These benefits did nothing to get him to go to USC or make him a better player while at USC. As a result of these benefits, an entire football team lost a season and their championship, which they won on the field. Worse, now 30 other kids won't get a chance to play college football at SC, and 2 years worth of teams will have no chance to earn a bowl berth. Punishing the current players so harshly for the transgressions of one player in the past seems pretty draconian to me.

by Whatev :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 2:51am

Clearly, they were inked by a voodoo shaman.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 5:32am

Maybe the tattoos were so awesome that no one wanted to tackle them for fear of ruining the tattoos? Or offensive players were awed into falling over by the sheer brilliance of the tats?

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:20pm

The NCAA rules are so ridiculously draconic to players that one can only laugh at this story. Really free tatoos.

by dreameagle :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:21pm

what, were your parents siblings?

just because money didn't change hands doesn't make it any less illegal a transaction, just like trading tickets for grades or substituting other students to take exams;

OSU have earned its reputation as a school dirty as USC or Miami, and richly deserves what is almost certainly coming to it if for continuing on the course Tressell has been allowed to travel full well knowingly by the regents;

by Dean :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:24pm

Don't drag Miami's name down by compairing it to the likes of Ohio State. They paid their price in the 90s and have been as clean a program as you'll find (admittedly, nobody is REALLY clean) for over a decade. Why do you think their coach got fired? They're not cheating enough!

by Sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:40am

what, were your parents siblings?


just because money didn't change hands doesn't make it any less illegal a transaction, just like trading tickets for grades or substituting other students to take exams;

1) Money did change hands
2) Its not the same as trading things for grades, because that would be a violation of eligibility to play rules based on academic performance. If you don't make grades you can't play, and that has to be maintained if we are to continue this charade of the "student athlete". In this case some players traded some of their personal possessions for cash and tattoos. Not pure in any sense, but it didn't make the team or any of the players one bit better.

OSU have earned its reputation as a school dirty as USC or Miami, and richly deserves what is almost certainly coming to it if for continuing on the course Tressell has been allowed to travel full well knowingly by the regents;

The punishments are pretty mild. Not sure what you think it coming, but I'm afraid you will be disappointed. Asshole.

by Solomon :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:00am

Dang ... this really sucks.

by Kal :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:28am

Honestly, while I'd love to point and say HA HA YOU ARE DIRTY HAH HAH to Tressel...the likely story is the one he said. He got the information from a cop who didn't want anyone else to know. He clearly knew it was a violation but what was he supposed to say?

It's tough, but this isn't him telling his guys to go sell their stuff. He's not telling the recruits that if they play with him, they can get stuff they can later sell on ebay. This isn't as bad as a dad shopping a son around for $200k (and then claiming it's fine) or even paying a shady guy who's banging a recruit's mom $25k for...'pictures'.

This is him not stating who his source was on a police force until the case went live. I can't really hate him for that or claim that that's a breach of ethics, and trust me - I desperately want to.

by ChaosOnion :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 9:40am

He got the information from a cop who didn't want anyone else to know.

I read he received and e-mail from a lawyer, but that is probably neither here nor there.

He clearly knew it was a violation but what was he supposed to say?

He is supposed to do his job, he is supposed to tell the truth and he is supposed to report a possible incident to the AD or whoever. I know NCAA football is a fetid cocktail of lies and corruption, but that does not mean we let Tressel off the hook. No, he did tell his players to go trade jerseys for services. No, he is not running the clean program his image portrays.

The story is not Tressel knowing but lying about the incident when the news first came out about the tattoo parlor. He stated the news report was the first time he heard about it. We now know this to be a lie.

At the new conference, Tressel did not admit any mistake nor claim any responsibility. He stated he did not know who to go to with the information. Sorry, this ain't my first rodeo and neither is it his. It is just another lie. I think it is much more plausible he thought it was one more BS e-mail hitting his in-box and dismissed it out of hand.

by Purds :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 9:30am

Wow, what a bunch of apologists. Look, Tressel knew he was breaking NCAA rules. It's a simple case. We can argue all we want about whether the rule is a good one or not, and whether the kids received any competitive advantage or not, but the bottom line is that every sport has rules you must obey. This is a replay of the BB video tape story. Lots of folks wanted to argue whether video taping helps a team instead of admitting that BB broke a rule. The question of the value of video taping opposing coaches is a worthy debate and one we should have. But, it doesn't excuse a coach (BB or Tressel) from breaking what he knows is one of the EXISTING rules. BB and Tressel are not some later-day MLK Jr's, breaking laws because they are unjust laws. They broke rules because they didn't want to get caught.

by Independent George :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 10:10am

Count me an apologist, then.

When he received the e-mails last April, though, Tressel was sufficiently spooked by the legal ramifications – "quite honestly, I was scared" – that he didn't consider betraying the sender's request for anonymity, even to the university. "I didn't move forward simply because in my mind, I couldn't think of who that best would be to talk to," he said. "What was most important was that we didn't interfere with a federal investigation."

If he's telling the truth, then he was basically prioritizing Federal law over NCAA regulations - which is what you're supposed to do. Of course, at that point, one might reasonably expect that he consulted OSU's general counsel about the matter, creating a paper trail indicating that he did, indeed, give the matter serious thought.

by poboy :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 2:29pm

If he's telling the truth, then he was basically prioritizing Federal law over NCAA regulations

And if you believe he's telling the truth, I have some free tattoos in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:23pm

"Of course, at that point, one might reasonably expect that he consulted OSU's general counsel about the matter, creating a paper trail indicating that he did, indeed, give the matter serious thought."

Agree 100%. That part of his story is incredibly weak. I'd have been much more inclined to believe him had he said he didn't take the thing seriously because he gets tons on crack-pot email every single day. Instead, he accepted it as fact but decided he couldn't even risk asking for legal advice or warning the university that pays him millions?

And when exactly was he going to decide it was safe to address this matter? Was he expecting to get word when the federal investigation was over? Or had he determined he was going to have to take this information to his grave? Awfully convenient that his efforts to stay on the right side of the law were also going to keep the infractions quiet, wasn't it?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 8:00am

If he's telling the truth, his next action would've been to hit reply and ask who he's allowed to tell.

Also, he wouldn't have said that he hadn't heard of it before December.

But, he's not telling the truth. My guess is that he hoped the items weren't from active players, and rolled the dice.

by Paul R :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 9:51am

A school coach is, first and foremost, a teacher. He is probably the most influential teacher these kids will have at OSU. It's wrong to discuss this as though it were pro ball. It's a school.

(Also, Woody Hayes is rolling over in his grave right now. If you're going to get fined and suspended, it should at least be for something manly, like assault.)

by Sophandros :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 10:20am

The tattoo artist in question is currently under investigation by the feds for drugs. That might raise some red flags.

Something else to consider is that if Tressel had just suspended them for the first game or so of the 2010 season, none of this happens.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 10:41am

However will Ohio State survive their games against mighty Akron and Toledo?

Way to self-punish, guys.

by Paul R :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 11:01am

Hey, don't knock the Zips. This is their year.

by cfn_ms :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 2:42am

To finish in the top 100?

by Marcumzilla :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 9:58am

And don't knock Toledo, they were at least good in the mid-90s (with a 3-1 stretch against Big 10 iirc).

by big_jgke :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 12:46pm

College Football is a farce from any angle. Can you all just keep it off somewhere else so fans of real football don't have to care about this nonsense?

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:34pm

right ... the idea of billionaires potentially canceling one or more seasons because they aren't making enough money isn't farcical.

There's no need to descend into college football threads to tell us that you don't like college football. It's easy enough to stick to NFL-related threads if you prefer.

by alum (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 1:32pm

I am a semi-recent graduate of tOSU (2002), and I have to say I'm a little confused by the angle a lot of media reports are taking on this story, that being that this is a bigger story because for some reason the school and Tressel are are assumed to be some kind of an otherwise virtuous entity. It's big-time college sports. Everyone is doing lots of little dirty things, and probably a majority of schools are doing seriously dirty things. It's like the sport of cycling, really. I don't understand why the uproar when yet another competitor is caught for any even trifling infraction.
If it were somehow true that the worst thing the program is guilty of is a handful of players making some money selling jerseys, then OSU should consider itself both very lucky and very much in the great minority of D1 schools.

by JonFrum :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 3:44pm

Apparently, your parents didn't teach you the value and virtue of honesty. Given that fact, there's nothing we can say to you.

by AJ (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 7:56pm

Apparently, your parents didn't teach you that people don't like sanctimonious tools.

by jebmak :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 8:42am


by HomeDog (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 10:13pm

I'm a gangsgter, bitch! I rob and steal and shit like that ha ha ha aa ha!!!!!!! F you!!!!!!!!!!

by Theo :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 4:03pm

so without sarcasm you're saying that we should get our hands together for the cyclist who took just a little bit of doping.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:26pm

So, let me get this straight: The fact they weren't busted for something worse just further proves what a clean program they are?

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:44pm

Oh, I think they're very much in the great minority of DI schools, and not at all in the way you believe. Consider this, from the Columbus Dispatch:

About 4,000 violations a year are reported to the NCAA, many of them unknown to the public because of FERPA. But one thing is certain: Ohio State has more than most. Florida, for example, reported 112 violations since 2000, and Oklahoma reported 224.

I'll list some of the biggest violations and let you decide which is worst. (Courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch and mgoblog.com.)

2002: Derek Morris receives thousands in benefits and other services, including a job for his father, and does not end up attending the school.

2003: Maurice Clarett. Expensive car, tens of thousands in benefits, grades he didn't earn.

An unnamed athlete receives an all-expenses paid trip to LA, including free meals, lodging, tickets to a Lakers basketball game and adidas apparel.

Also that May, an undisclosed number of Buckeyes worked at a convention where they were paid $130 each to sign autographs and play golf. The athletes temporarily lost eligibility for taking improper jobs and had to give the money to charity to regain eligibility.

2004: Booster Robert Q Baker gives Troy Smith $500 for a fake job, getting Smith suspended a couple games and himself dissociated from the program. A couple years earlier Chris Gamble also worked for Baker's company.

2005: The apartment of AJ Hawk and Nick Mangold is robbed. Items declared missing include $1400 worth of movies, a $500 Gucci watch, and $3000 in cash, presumably kept under the bed and away from those fat cats at National City.

Santonio Holmes is allegedly receiving benefits that are good enough that when another agent approaches him, Holmes says he's set and doesn't need any more help.

In October 2005, two football players stole a $60 alarm clock and a $10 hair dryer from the Hilton Minneapolis. The team was in town to play a game against the Golden Gophers.

2006: In February 2006, an undisclosed number of football players attended a charity event and signed autographs without permission. The athletes lost eligibility for a time but did not miss a game because it wasn't football season.

2010: Five Ohio State players are found to have sold memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. Jim Tressel is given a credible tip about it in April and does nothing.

Terrelle Pryor has been pulled over for traffic violations three times in his Ohio State career. All three times he was in a car registered to Auto Direct, a local dealership.

by lionsbob :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 4:24pm

Not a big Clay Travis fan....but here is what he has to say about this:

No reasonable person who reads this emails can justify Jim Tressel still having a job. Yet as of now the vast majority of sports fans haven’t even read these emails. Why? Because ESPN hasn’t used them at all in its television coverage. Not a single email! That’s a complete and utter indictment of the network. But, to be fair, two days ago the Miami Heat coach did say that a couple of his players cried in the locker room. That definitely deserves 100x the network coverage as one of the most famous coaches in college history lying to his employer, impeding a federal criminal investigation while encouraging a cover-up and reclamation of evidence, lying about why he lied — the confidentiality argument is bullshit as you’ll see below –, all to keep his players, at least two of whom were under investigation for federal drug trafficking!, eligible for a season they shouldn’t have been eligible for at all.


by Independent George :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 5:47pm

Ok - thanks for the link. That kind of gets at the heart of the issue here - what was actually in the emails? After reading the emails, I conclude Tressel is full of crap, and should possibly be facing criminal charges.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 6:36pm

Great column. The most damning part is that Tressel claims he was scared to violate federal law and tell the university and NCAA about it...but then he went and talked to the players. So, talking to outside parties was taboo because of confidentiality, but talking to people actually directly involved in the federal investigation was okay in Tressel's book. He'd better start working on a better story.

by Robo (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 11:56pm

Worst. Liar. Ever. I got suspicious when he stammered his way through the press conference. And I just got done reading the email exchange. At no point does he come across as scared or even overly concerned by the whole thing. The vibe is it's something he deals with all the time and the lawyer makes it sound like this isn't the first time he's provided info on stuff like this. Rest assured the NCAA is going to do some serious digging now.

by Jonathon (not verified) :: Wed, 03/09/2011 - 7:20pm

Holy crap those emails are incriminating. They've got Tressel in writing acknowledging he knows he's got players selling their championship rings to a drug dealer?! And he never tells anybody?! I'm starting to think this may eventually cost him his job. They're going to get hammered by the NCAA, probably lose some wins, you name it.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 7:42am

But at least tOSU finally registered a win against a team from the SEC. Until they're forced to forfeit it by the NCAA, that is.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:37am

People care about this sort of thing. Really? How anyone can take college athletics seriously is beyond me. The whole system is practically custom designed to lead to violations, and then people are outraged when they occur.

I wonder how long coaches would last if they were the ones paid in tuition and were not allowed to receive any other benefits from their position. ADs? Only about 25% of these athletes are real students anyway.

The rest are there solely for sports, and almost all of them receive academic help far exceeding what is available for a normal student (As a tutor division I school I saw a player take a test with double the allotted time behind closed doors with only his personal tutor.).

Just make the players employees of the alumni development department and be done with it. This fiction that they are students is unfair to them, leads to bizarre legal contortions, and hurts the real students.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 03/10/2011 - 2:51pm

I agree with much of what you say, but I'm not sure paying them would change much. You'd still have guys getting extra stuff under the table. This OSU affair could have went down exactly like it did even with the players getting paid. Because no matter what you have, you still want more.

I'd like to see athletic scholarships carry over after eligibility ends. (Like there maybe being a couple extra years redeemable whenever the player decides to use them, even if it's years down the road.) That way you might get some guys who suddenly realize they're not going to be pros and don't want to dig ditches for a living going back to finish their degree. Part of the problem is these kids get treated like pieces of meat with the schools carrying about nothing but keeping them eligible, then dumping them the minute they can't play any more. And by the time the kids grow up enough to figure out what the future really holds, it's too late.

by Kal :: Fri, 03/11/2011 - 4:26am

If you paid them - and didn't charge tuition - then it wouldn't matter what other income they made. You could unionize all college football players so that there was at least a base salary they could all earn but they could in theory get paid far more than that.

Here's how I'd fix it. You could either get a scholarship - with all the issues it currently has, but with the benefit that you keep it for your duration at the school regardless of what happens to you on the team (as long as yoou're not dismissed for rule violations). Or you get paid, period. You are not a student or even necessarily enrolled at the school; you have a wage and are an employee of the school. You have 4 years in which you can play at the school.

The disadvantage of being an employee is that you can be fired at any time. There's no guarantee of staying at the school. But you can get as much money as you want and don't have to go to school if you don't want to (if you do, you'd just be another paying student).