Was Jim Tressel hiding information from the NCAA?
Update: Jim Tressel has been suspended by the university for two games.
Ohio State will start the 2011 regular season with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas all sitting out the first five games, serving a suspension that came out of a December investigation in to the players for allegedly selling merchandise and football apparel in exchange for tattoos and money. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel supposedly only knew about the infractions as a result of the investigation.
Not according to a Yahoo! Sports investigative report, which accuses Tressel of knowing of the wrong-doing since April of last year.
Tressel received information that players were selling items to Edward Rife – the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus – as early as April 2010, according to a source. However, neither Ohio State nor the NCAA investigated the transactions or the players’ relationship with Rife until December 2010, when the school claims it was informed of the situation by the local United States Attorney’s office.
– Yahoo! Sports, Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, March 7, 2011
Despite criticism, Ohio State opted to play their players who violated NCAA rules in the Sugar Bowl, a victory against Arkansas for the Buckeyes’ first victory against an SEC school. As I stated on Examiner this morning, if the NCAA decides to revisit the investigation and confirms what Yahoo! Sports s reporting then further actions would be likely to be forthcoming for Ohio State. Among the possible punishments would likely be a forfeit of every win form the 2010 season, including the lone SEC bowl victory, eleven regular season wins and a co-Big Ten championship. It is possible that if the Yahoo! Sports report is confirmed by the NCAA that this would be the first course of action, because Tressel will come under fire for playing players that he would have known to be in violation.
We have yet to hear Ohio State’s formal response on this situation though and should hear what the athletic department has to say later today. Expect a statement from Tresel, whether he addresses the media or if a witten statement is shared by the university. Tressel has not been one to shy away form the media though so I would suspect he will appear in front of a microphone today.
If Tressel is found to be guilty of hiding information from the NCAA during their investigation there is a clause in his contract that could allow the school to terminate his contract, but I don’t think it will come to that given the information that is available at this time. However, if there is much more that is being hidden somewhere in Tressel’s office then who knows what will happen. Is this just a one-time incident or is there more to the Tressel profile that needs to be investigated.
Needless to say, Tressel already has a stain on his image regardless of the validity of the Yahoo! Sports report. Stay tuned.
The Ohio State Timeline
Here is a quick reference of the important dates to keep an eye on as this news continues to unfold.
Yahoo! Sports reports Jim Tressel received information that several Buckeyes were selling memorabilia.
December 7, 2010
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith confirmed the school had become aware of the infractions on this date, as stated in a December 23, 2010 press conference. The players involved in the investigation were Pryor, Herron, Posey, Thomas and freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting.
December 20, 2010
Ohio State rules the players ineligible and requested reinstatement from the NCAA.
December 23, 2010
Ohio State players involved in NCAA investigation are confirmed to have been suspended for five games starting in 2011 (Whiting will only serve a one-game suspension) and are ruled eligible to participate in Sugar Bowl.
December 30, 2010
Ohio State’s suspended players vow to return for 2011 season at a press conference. The option to leave for the NFL was an option for all starting players involved, which would keep them from missing time on the playing field at Ohio State in 2011.
January 4, 2011
Ohio State defeats Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Pryor throws for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushes for 115 yards. Herron rushes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Posey leads the Buckeyes in receiving with 70 yards and a touchdown.
March 7, 2011
Yahoo! Sports releases investigative report claiming that Tressel knew of the NCAA infractions as early as April.
March 8, 2011
Ohio State suspends Tressel for two games.