Oregon State president Ed Ray is in something of a unique position when it comes to the Jim Tressel brouhaha at Ohio State. As a former vice president and provost in Columbus, Ray was one of the Buckeye officials who hired Tressel away from Youngstown State and knows Tressel personally. But as the current president of the NCAA's Executive Committee (the committee which oversees changes to NCAA's byzantine rulebook and bylaws), he's also heavily invested in seeing the NCAA's standards and rules upheld.
So it carries more than the usual weight when Ray opens both barrels on Tressel in an interview today with the Oregonian:
"I just thought the world of him ... " Ray said. "I would assume he's certainly been a very positive influence on many of the players that he had. But this whole episode to me is beyond the pale. It's totally unacceptable ..."As Ray himself points out, his opinion is not necessarily an opinion shared by the NCAA colleagues who will ultimately decide Tressel's punishment fate. And Ray's personal disappointment with a man he clearly respected a great deal is also likely coloring his remarks.
The NCAA has not yet ruled on Tressel's transgression, and Ray emphasized that he was speaking for himself only. But on how NCAA enforcement officials might view Tressel's case, Ray said, "If I were in their position, I'd be a hanging judge."
He continued: "I think there are lines you don't cross in your own life.... I'm not a big mercy guy. I'm not a big understander of extenuating circumstances. We all sort of engage in thinking about situational ethics. But I'm kinda old-school. And I think you're either ethical or you're not ethical."
With that said, Ray also remains representative of the type of academically-focused officials who populate the NCAA and will be on the committee reviewing the Tressel case. If his response to Tressel's transgressions are even remotely similar to those shared across the NCAA, that five-game suspension could be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.