Tag:Ohio State investigation
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Mini-roundtable: On OSU's 'punishment'

By Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli

Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli of the Eye On College Football blog discuss Ohio State's decision to vacate wins from the 2010 season and the bus it has decided to drive over Jim Tressel.

Jerry Hinnen: The first question that comes to mind reading the Ohio State response to the NCAA is this, Tom: what part is most laughable? I feel like we've got so many options here. 

Tom Fornelli: Where to begin? There's a lot to mock here.

If anything, I'll just start with the entire concept of vacating wins in the first place. What does that even mean when you really get down to it? The Buckeyes no longer beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl? Well, Arkansas didn't beat Ohio State either. So did the Sugar Bowl just not happen, because I remember watching it. I mean, if you're going to vacate wins, it should just be a symbolic move to make along with other self-imposed sanctions you're making. It should not be the only punishment you're imposing on yourself.

Yeah, according to Ohio State's history books, that win over Arkansas never happened, but are they returning the money they got from the BCS for playing in the game? Nope. I mean, this is like if I were to rob a series of banks, and then one day the police caught me. Then, when they showed up at my door, I just screamed "I'm vacating the robberies! They never happened! Wipe them from the books! Oh, but I'm not giving the money back to the banks I no longer robbed."

It's a joke. 

JH: It is, and it would be a funny one if one of the nation's largest universities and most respected football program's integrity weren't at stake. But for my money, the most jaw-dropping aspect is the school's treatment of Jim Tressel.

On the one hand, the response calls Tressel's actions "embarrassing" and claims he acted alone without any other Buckeye administration member aware of his decisions. Clearly, after the coddling Tressel received from Gordon Gee and Gene Smith in previous press conferences, the school is trying to distance itself from its former coach. He's smeared the institution's good name. He's a pariah. They've forced him to resign (after the part where he'd done it voluntarily).

Or, as it turns out, they've allowed him to retire with benefits, waived a $250,000 fine they'd previously sworn to collect, and paid him an extra $50,000 on top of that. OSU hates Tressel and everything he stands for ... except for the part where they've rewarded him for his loyalty with hundreds of thousands of dollars and a retirement in the school's good graces.

If you're the NCAA, where do you begin to make sense of this? Is there any way to interpret these kinds of actions other than a desperate hope the NCAA will pay attention only to what the response is saying, rather than what the program is actually doing?

TF: As far as the treatment of Tressel is concerned, if I'm the NCAA I'm not buying a single word of it. That is, unless they want to turn a blind eye to reality. How is anybody really supposed to believe that Tressel was doing any of this on his own after the way Ohio State has treated the entire situation?

I don't think paying the guy who you're blaming for everything is the move you make unless you really want him to go along with that stance. Let's be honest, Tressel is the fall guy here and now Gene Smith and Gordon Gee are doing everything they can to save their own behinds. If you think about it, though, no matter how this went down, is Gene Smith somebody who should survive all this?

He either knew about everything and is pretending he didn't -- he's vacating his memory -- or he really knew nothing! How can you argue that you should keep your job as an athletic director of a school when something of this scope is taking place under your very nose without you having a clue?

Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.

JH: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.

But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.

And now OSU wants to pin the entire thing on the coach it enabled at every step (up to and including the pillow-laden step right out the door), expecting the NCAA to look at its meaningless dabbles in the history books and declare "OK, we're cool." Judging from the sledgehammer dropped on USC, I'll be beyond stunned if the NCAA is feeling very cool at all.

TF: Agreed. Any predictions on what the NCAA adds if anything? Personally I'm thinking around 10 scholarships and a two-year postseason ban.

JH: Sounds about right--plus a show-cause order for Tressel. His college football coaching career is over.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Ohio State to vacate wins from 2010

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Ohio State submitted its reply to NCAA charges Friday, and according to the Associated Press, the school is going to wipe its 2010 season from the record books. Though the school did not mention any plans to lose scholarships or impose a bowl ban.

Ohio State says it's vacating its wins from the 2010 football season, including the Buckeyes' victory over Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

Responding to NCAA allegations over a memorabilia-for-cash scandal that cost former coach Jim Tressel his job, Ohio State says Friday it also is waiving a $250,000 fine it had imposed on Tressel and changing his resignation to a retirement. Through the school, the ex-Buckeyes coach says that he is taking responsibility for the NCAA inquiry, which developed after it was learned Tressel failed to report players receiving improper benefits.

The university also is imposing a two-year probation period on the program, which means there would be harsher penalties if any further wrongdoing is discovered..

Of course, while vacating its entire 2010 season is a good first step for Ohio State, this does not mean the school will escape the loss of scholarships or a postseason ban. After the school's date in front of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions next month, the NCAA could decide to institute both punishments, if not more.

And speaking of that meeting next month, word also came today that Jim Tressel will be appearing in front of the Committee on Infractions as well. My guess is that any further punishment that may come Ohio State's way could have a lot to do with whether Tressel is willing to fall on his sword as the school seems to hope he will by saying he was the only school official who was aware of any violations.

You can read more about my thoughts, along with Jerry Hinnen's, about Ohio State's decision here

Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Tressel skipped NCAA rules seminar this weekend

Posted by Chip Patterson

Part of Ohio State's school-imposed punishment for former head coach Jim Tressel was to attend an NCAA rules seminar this weekend in Tampa. The punishment was issued well before recent revelations regarding Tressel and former Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, when both thought there was a chance of taking the field in 2011.

But after Tressel's resignation and Pryor's hasty exit, the former head coach opted to skip the rules seminar this weekend. Gene Marsh, Tressel's attorney for the upcoming meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, told The Columbus Dispatch he understood why Tressel did not attend the seminar. Marsh pointed out that Tressel, who has done no interviews since his resignation, would likely draw unnecessary media attention to the event - which was meant for much more than Ohio State.

Also attending the seminar were Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun and former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez, among others. Because of the resignation, Tressel will not be obligated to attend Ohio State's meeting with the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12. Marsh also told the Dispatch that he is unsure if Tressel will appear at the meeting.

Should the COI hold their meeting without Tressel, it could have an effect on where the blame is placed as the committee sorts through the details of the violations. Some have suggested that Tressel should be present in order to have a chance to defend himself, others believe that less emphasis on the former coach will lead to more blame placed on the university. One thing is for sure, if Tressel skips the COI meeting as well there will be a lot less questions answered and more speculation into the shady ongoings with the football program in Columbus.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:14 pm
 

Report: OSU warned about Talbott in 2007

Posted by Tom Fornelli

According to a report in the Plain Dealer, Ohio State first received a warning about photographer Dennis Talbott as early as 2007. Talbott was recently alleged to have paid Terrelle Pryor anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for signed memorabilia. Allegations that Talbott has steadfastly denied. In the latest report it's said that Talbott has been dealing with Ohio State players and signed merchandise for a few years now.

In a March 21, 2007 email to Tressel, which was provided to the Plain Dealer, a source gave the following warning about the alleged online activities of Talbott, a Columbus-based freelance photographer who also is involved in memorabilia sales:

"He has sold over 50 items with underclassmen signatures before their eligibility expires and would seem to be someone that both you and the university is aware of. I have a full report of his eBay activities if you would like to explore further or require documentation."

The email was sent to the account tressel.3@osu.edu. That is the same address that Columbus attorney Chris Cicero used to email Tressel in April of 2010 about OSU players selling memorabilia, an email that Tressel did not disclose to his bosses, an NCAA violation that eventually led to his May 30 resignation.

The Dealer goes on to say that even though Ohio State and Jim Tressel had been warned about Talbott in 2007, that did not stop Talbott from receiving free tickets to eight games in 2008, though the names of the players who left the tickets were redacted from the record.

Ohio State then received a second warning about Talbott in 2009.

The second warning about Talbott to OSU came in the summer of 2009. Two employees of Scioto Reserve Golf Club contacted members of the athletic department after seeing Talbott and Pryor golfing together. One employee said he talked to an Ohio State assistant coach he knew socially, and was told the matter would be taken care of. Another employee, Regan Koivisto, the club's general manager, said he called the football office and detailed his concerns while talking to an administrative assistant.

"I just thought it would be best if the coaching staff was aware, because I'm certain they always had their players' best interests in mind and would want to know," Koivisto told The Plain Dealer.

So you'll begin to notice an alarming trend taking place at Ohio State under Jim Tressel. Tressel would be alerted about potential problems with his players and then do nothing about it. Despite the concerns about Talbott expressed to the school, that didn't stop Ohio State from allowing Talbott to work as a credentialed photographer at home games in 2009.

Obviously, on the surface, Terrelle Pryor playing golf with somebody isn't anything to be alarmed about. But when that person is somebody you've already been warned about in the past when it comes to his relationship with Ohio State players, the fact that Ohio State wouldn't address the issue is mind-boggling.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Tressel still has to pay his fine

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Resigning as head coach at Ohio State doesn't mean Jim Tressel will escape the fine the school gave him.

On Thursday Ohio State president Gordon Gee let the world know that Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor weren't the only people who had left the school in recent weeks, saying that the NCAA investigators who were around left Columbus a week ago. Of course, just because the investigators have left, that doesn't mean the investigation is over. As for Jim Tressel, just because he's no longer the head coach of Ohio State, that doesn't men he's allowed to stop paying for his mistakes.

While Tressel is no longer required to meet with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on August 12th, if he hopes to coach again on the college level, it's a move he should make. Still, that's a choice he's allowed to make. A choice he doesn't have, according to Gee, is whether or not he'll pay the $250,000 fine the school originally gave him -- along with the five-game suspension -- in an effort to ease any future punishment from the NCAA. Gee said on Thursday that Tressel will pay the fine, and the school said the details of the payment are still being worked out.

Which is a pretty big dent in Tressel's wallet, especially now that he won't have the regular income as Ohio State's head coach. So even though he won't have to deal with any penalties likely coming Ohio State's way in the future, Tressel will still feel hit in his bank account. 
Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Photographer: 'I haven't given [Pryor] a dollar'

Posted by Chip Patterson

First Terrelle Pryor's lawyer threatened a lawsuit during an outraged radio interview, and now the photographer brought into question for paying Pryor for signed memorabilia has issued a denial of his own. Columbus photographer Dennis Talbott denied ever giving money to Pryor when speaking to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Thursday.

"They are potentially destroying people's lives," Talbott said in a phone interview. "It's not true. I haven't given him a dollar. I haven't given him anything perceived as an improper benefit."

In the damning anonymous interview on ESPN's Outside the Lines, a former friend of Pryor suggested that as many as 35 to 40 payments were made by Talbott for memorabilia, with the total earned ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The website Sports By Brooks ran their own investigation on Talbott, collecting a series of photos and screen shots which suggest Talbott has not only been using an eBay name, "infickelwetrust," to sell autographed and game-used items from Ohio State football players, but also has been operating a side business - Varsity O Memorabilia, to sell signed memorabilia. Photos from Varsity O's Facebook page show items being signed/signed by A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Beanie Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Maurice Wells, Mike D'Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock, and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

Talbott tried to tell the Plain-Dealer that he doesn't "have the wherewithal" to shell out the kind of money reported in the Outside the Lines piece. If Talbott, 40, has been running this multiple organization operation he should surely have the cash to arrange these payments. As far as the "infickelwetrust" eBay account, by Wednesday night the account had been deleted and all of the items had been removed.

Another case of he said-she said in Columbus, as the scandal slowly unravels and reveals a community - not just a coach - embracing ignorance in order to experience immediate success and gratification.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Minor league baseball team pokes fun at OSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

The story of trouble at Ohio State is everywhere you look in sports right now. Whether it is Jim Tressel's resignation, or even more news regarding Terrelle Pryor and/or automobiles; you can't avoid talk about the scandal in Columbus. Heck, even LeBron James was questioned about the issue leading up to the biggest series of his career. But one minor league baseball team has decided to spin the scandal into one of the more creative game promotions I've heard this season. Fans of the Fort Myers Miracle will get a chance to participate in "Rest the Vest" Night at Hammond Stadium when the Miracle host the Jupiter Hammerheads on Monday, June 6.

As part of the "Rest the Vest" promotions, fans are encouraged to bring in their sweater vest and place it in a retirement bin near the front gate of the stadium. Turning in your sweater vest will give you the opportunity to participate in a test drive of a sports car from Classic Cars of Florida. In addition to the sweater vest drive, fans who show their tattoo will be given a piece of Miracle memorabilia to keep or sell.

This will likely enrage many Ohio State fans, but it seems like just the type of creativity that you could only get away with minor league baseball - the best kind. Not only are they knocking on Tressel, but also including car dealerships and tattoos for memorabilia "to keep or sell."

The Fort Myers Miracle are a Class A Advanced affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. For more information on "Rest the Vest" Night, you can find it at their official site here.

H/T: @OmarDuckets via @darrenrovell
Posted on: May 30, 2011 9:40 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 6:01 am
 

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the announcement that Jim Tressel had resigned at Ohio State on Monday morning, it was mentioned that the move came following some findings of a report in the next issue of Sports Illustrated. That report was published on Monday evening. It includes new revelations that the five Buckeyes suspended after trading Ohio State memorabilia for tattoos were not alone. According to the report, it's a practice that has gone on for years and includes at least 28 players.

That support crumbled suddenly over Memorial Day weekend. Tressel was forced out three days after Sports Illustrated alerted Ohio State officials that the wrongdoing by Tressel's players was far more widespread than had been reported. SI learned that the memorabilia-for-tattoos violations actually stretched back to 2002, Tressel's second season at Ohio State, and involved at least 28 players -- 22 more than the university has acknowledged. Those numbers include, beyond the six suspended players, an additional nine current players as well as nine former players whose alleged wrongdoing might fall within the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations on violations.

One former Buckeye, defensive end Robert Rose, whose career ended in 2009, told SI that he had swapped memorabilia for tattoos and that "at least 20 others" on the team had done so as well. SI's investigation also uncovered allegations that Ohio State players had traded memorabilia for marijuana and that Tressel had potentially broken NCAA rules when he was a Buckeyes assistant coach in the mid-1980s.

The report later goes on to name a long list of players who allegedly traded items for tattoos and possibly other things as well. It's also reported that former Buckeye Jermil Martin gave Fine Line Ink owner Edward Rife a watch and four tickets to the 2010 Rose Bowl in exchange for a Chevy Tahoe. As for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, it's alleged that he made upward of 20 different trades -- including game-worn shoulder pads, helmets and game pants -- at the tattoo shop. When an employee asked Pryor how he got all this stuff Pryor responded "I get whatever I want."

Perhaps the most damning aspect of all of this for Jim Tressel was that some of the autographed merchandise that players traded at Fine Line Ink and Dudleyz Tattoo & Body Piercing -- the shop where Buckeyes allegedly began trading items years ago before Fine Link Ink opened -- featured Tressel's autograph.

Dustin Halko was an artist at Dudley'z from the fall of 2002 until early '04, and he says that players regularly visited the shop and handed over signed jerseys, gloves, magazines and other goods in exchange for tattoos. Halko says he personally inked at least 10 Ohio State players -- he clearly remembers tattooing guard T.J. Downing, tight end Louis Irizarry and wide receiver Chris Vance -- and in return he was given autographed memorabilia. (Downing denies ever entering Dudley'z and says that if his memorabilia was there it had been stolen out of his locker; Irizarry and Vance could not be reached for comment despite extensive efforts to contact them.) Halko says that more players, including Clarett (who declined to comment), traded with other artists, and he estimates that at least 15 players violated NCAA rules at Dudley'z just as Pryor & Co. did at Fine Line Ink. Two associates of Halko's who hung out at the shop -- they asked not be named because they fear reprisals from Ohio State fans -- confirmed Halko's account that players commonly swapped memorabilia for tattoo work. One said he saw "at least five" Buckeyes conduct such transactions; the other said "at least seven."

"What they brought in depended on the kind of tattoo they wanted," says Halko. "If it was just something small, it might be a signed magazine or something like that. If it was a full sleeve, they might bring in a jersey." (Tattoos range in price from less than $100 for simple designs to several thousand dollars for more elaborate ones like the full-sleeve inkings of some Buckeyes.) Halko says those working in the shop preferred receiving items with multiple autographs. His most memorable acquisition was a scarlet-and-gray training jacket with between 10 and 15 signatures on it, including Tressel's. Halko says he also traded tattoo work for a magazine bearing the coach's autograph.

As if all this isn't bad enough for Tressel and the Buckeyes, there were also some possible recruiting violations brought up that Tressel allegedly committed while serving as an assistant under Earle Bruce in the mid-1980s.

One of Tressel's duties then was to organize and run the Buckeyes' summer camp. Most of the young players who attended it would never play college football, but a few were top prospects whom Ohio State was recruiting. At the end of camp, attendees bought tickets to a raffle with prizes such as cleats and a jersey. According to his fellow assistant, Tressel rigged the raffle so that the elite prospects won -- a potential violation of NCAA rules. Says the former colleague, who asked not to be identified because he still has ties to the Ohio State community, "In the morning he would read the Bible with another coach. Then, in the afternoon, he would go out and cheat kids who had probably saved up money from mowing lawns to buy those raffle tickets. That's Jim Tressel." 

Just in case that wasn't enough, the report also goes into detail on some of Tressel's past transgressions while not only at Ohio State, but Youngstown State as well.

All in all, this is not a report that sheds a favorable light on Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes or Ohio State in general. It's rather obvious now why Tressel decided to resign on Monday morning. Whether that move will cause the NCAA to show the school some mercy remains to be seen, but you have to believe that Buckeye fans across Ohio and the country won't be sleeping well tonight. 


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com