Jim Tressel is out as the head football coach at Ohio State University. The 10-year head coach resigned on Monday. Tressel is know for is mild father like demeanor, religious values and his scarlet sweater vest. He also coached the Buckeyes to a national title in 2002 and was 106-22 in his 10 years as the coach in Columbus. The circumstances of Tressel’s departure are less than pleasant.
Tressel was on the hot seat for not reporting violations of some of his players to the NCAA. Not only were the violations not reported, but Tressel also lied to the NCAA that he was aware of them. The trouble began last December when the Department of Justice informed officials at OSU that during an investigation of a local tattoo parlor they discovered evidence that at least six players were trading Buckeye gear and memorabilia for tattoos.
Whether you agree with many of the NCAA’s archaic rules or not, this activity is a violation of NCAA policy. Among the players implicated was star quarterback Terrell Pryor. When the news broke, Tressel said he had no knowledge of the allegations. The NCAA, in their infinite wisdom, decided to suspend the six players for the first five games of 2011, but allowed them to participate in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
After the December newsbreak reports began to surface that Tressel was warned by a Columbus attorney of the player’s activities almost a year earlier. In March Tressel admitted to this, but said he didn’t report it because he didn’t know who to report it to.
That is about as ridiculous a statement imaginable. Every school has a compliance department and Ohio State with one of the largest football budgets in the nation, probably has a very large compliance department. That would seem to be a good place to take the issue.
In any event, that is where Tressel’s problems began to mount. He was also suspended from coaching the first five games this season, but the university chose not to terminate him. On Friday Sports Illustrated informed OSU officials of more widespread improprieties uncovered by a reporter for a story released Sunday night on the web and to be published in the magazine this week.
While neither OSU, nor Tressel, have responded to SI, the magazine is reporting that as many as 28 players have been identified as trading memorabilia for tattoos since 2002. Former players at Youngstown State and OSU have implicated Tressel as knowing, and even facilitating pay for no work jobs. Pryor has been seen driving as many as half a dozen nice cars since his arrival in Columbus. That is a sure red flag that teammates and students certainly see daily, yet seems to have escaped the attention of the coaches and compliance department.
Less than 60 hours of being notified of the SI findings Tressel resigned his position. A decision likely encouraged by Ohio State administration. The probe will now go deeper and more casualties and penalties are likely.