Ohio State's Tressel fined, suspended two games
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has won a national championship and seven conference titles in 10 years with the Buckeyes.
March 8th, 2011
07:27 PM ET

Ohio State's Tressel fined, suspended two games

The Ohio State University has fined its longtime football coach Jim Tressel $250,000 and suspended him two games after learning Tressel knew that some of his players may have violated NCAA rules months before he'd acknowledged. 

“Obviously I’m disappointed that this happened at all," Tressel said in a press conference Tuesday night. "I take responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously … and obviously I plan to grow from this. I’m sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and that I didn’t do some things as well as I could possibly do."

The punishment comes one day after Yahoo Sports reported, citing an anonymous source, that the coach was aware of player infractions in April, not in December as he and the university had stated.  Athletic Director Gene Smith said Tuesday the school had been investigating Tressel since January and expected to finish by week's end, but a leak to the media on Monday sped up the announcement.

The case involves a federal investigation into a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor owner - an investigation that revealed five OSU players including the starting quarterback had sold  memorabilia to the owner, and that one player received a discounted tattoo, violations of NCAA rules.

The school disclosed the violations in December, before the team played in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. The players were allowed to play in the bowl game, though they were suspended for portions of next season. But on Tuesday, Smith said the school subsequently learned Tressel had known months beforehand that two players were linked to the federal investigation.

Smith said the school determined that Tressel committed a major NCAA violation by not coming forward with the information last spring. The school has reported the violation to the NCAA, and in addition to the fine and suspension, is ordering Tressel to attend a compliance seminar.

Tressel told reporters Tuesday that someone had sent him e-mails about the federal investigation last spring. He said he inferred that confidentiality was crucial. He said although he talked to his players about "the importance of who you associate with," he "didn't move forward with this information to anyone."

"We worked very hard to make it a teachable moment, and as time went on, in my mind, what was most important was that we didn’t interefere with a federal investigation ... and that I needed to keep sight of the fact that confidentiality was requested by (an) attorney, so I followed that," Tressel said.

At a December 23 news conference, Smith said that no one at the university knew of the memorabilia sales before early December, when a U.S. attorney contacted the school. Tressel, according to Yahoo, never corrected Smith and later said the coaching staff was to blame for failing to educate the players on NCAA compliance.

 Smith on Tuesday said there was no question in his mind that Tressel's decision "was from the heart” and that there was no ill intent.

“Jim Tressel is a coach of young men, and we support him 100%," Smith said, quashing media speculation that Tressel was about to be fired.

Among the items sold were a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award, a jersey and multiple Big Ten championship rings. The players received money and discounted tattoos in exchange, the NCAA found after a brief investigation.

The NCAA said in December that the so-called Buckeye Five - quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Daniel Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas - could take the field for the 2011 Sugar Bowl on January 4, but it  suspended them for the first five games of the 2011 season. The players also had to each repay between $1,000 and $2,500 in improper benefits.

 A sixth player, reserve linebacker Jordan Whiting, was suspended for one game and had to pay $150 to charity for a discounted tattoo he received.

 Tressel has long enjoyed the image of one of the few clean coaches in a sport rife with improprieties and shady dealings.

SI.com’s Stewart Mandel wrote in his Tuesday column that it would be hard to imagine Ohio State firing a coach who boasts a national championship and seven Big Ten titles in his decade tenure with the Buckeyes.

 But as is the case with most big-time college football coaches, Tressel’s contract includes a clause stating he could be terminated for failing to speedily report NCAA violations.

 Since Tressel took over the program for the 2001 season, Ohio State has won a national championship (January 2003) and played in two other BCS National Championship games. The team has had at least a share of the Big Ten title in each of the last six seasons, and it finished last year with a Sugar Bowl victory and a 12-1 record.

soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. ken

    BYU suspends a basketball player for violating University rules that he signed on to obey. Ohio State did basically nothing to a coach who lied and supported gross corruption in the football program. The NCAA should void all Ohio State wins, ban scholarships for 4 years, and ban Tressel for life! Sports journalists have been supporting corruption, cheating, and immoral behavior for years in college athletics. The NCAA must stop it now. Any transgression should get the ultimate penalty. Don't let the news media turn Americans into cheating criminals. The people of the world are already beating news journalists for their hate mongering truth terrorism. Sports journalists are even worse. They seem to thrive when they lie and create a story! Maybe the NCAA should not allow these truth terrorist journalists in NCAA stadiums!

    March 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AB

    Why is situation any different than the one at Tennessee with Bruce Pearl ! Tressel should get what is coming to him from the NCAA, not just a slap on the hand. Ohio State is only giving him a slap on tthe hand also, Ohio State needs to get tough with these students with criminal records and kick them off the team, all they have are thugs !!! They need to ban scholarships for these and all players and strip them of their wins for the 2010 season and ban Tressel for life in coaching!!!! The NCAA isn't being tough enough on Tressel. Bruce Pearls violation was not even close to what Tressel has done.

    March 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lisa

    This really all about 5 Afro-Americans wanting more than they can afford and finding a way to get it by breaking the law. OSU's 2nd Best Coach (Woody) is going down due to some idiots!!

    April 26, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
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