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Tag:NCAA Investigations
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Oregon releases statement regarding Lyles

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Oregon football program took a beating on Friday when a Yahoo! report carpet bombed the entire program with allegations by scouting service owner Willie Lyles. Lyles went into detail about his relationship with the school and recruits he helped Oregon land, such as Lache Seastrunk and Heisman finalist LaMichael James. Lyles even addressed the infamous outdated scouting report that Oregon paid him $25,000 for. That report brought all this attention to the school and to Lyles.

As you'd expect, the school issued a statement about the story on Friday evening, though it didn't say much of anything.

“The University of Oregon athletic department has and will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA inquiry,” athletic director Rob Mullens said in the statement. “Our department is committed to helping the NCAA in any way possible and until their work is complete, we are unable to comment further.

“Oregon athletics remains committed to operating a program of integrity.”

If Mullens and Oregon are really committed to operating a "program of integrity," well, I know of at least one step they can take.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Lyles talks about his relationship with Oregon

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you're an Oregon fan you may want to pour yourself a drink and sit down before you continue reading any further.

In a report released by Yahoo on Friday, Will Lyles -- the "street agent" who has been the subject of an NCAA investigation at Oregon in recent months -- detailed his relationship with Oregon in helping the school land recruits like LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk amongst others with Yahoo's Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel. Amongst the things talked about is the $25,000 the school paid Lyles for recruiting reports that eventually turned out to be a few years old, and things don't look good for Oregon if Lyles' side of the story is true.
Embattled scouting service owner Will Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly personally approved a controversial $25,000 fee that sparked an ongoing NCAA investigation and was in constant contact as Lyles provided the Ducks with recruiting assistance that may have violated NCAA rules.

In a wide-ranging, multi-day interview, Lyles said Kelly "scrambled" in late February and asked Lyles to submit retroactive player profiles to justify the $25,000 payment to his company, just days before the transaction was revealed in a March 3 Yahoo! Sports report. Lyles also provided details of his fledgling company – Complete Scouting Services (CSS) – as well as the extent of his relationship with numerous Texas high school stars and his role in Ducks' recruitment of certain prospects.

Lyles insists Oregon did not make a direct request or payment to steer recruits to Eugene. However, he now says Oregon did not pay him for his work as a traditional scout, but for his influence with top recruits and their families and his ability to usher prospects through the signing and eligibility process. That dual role as mentor to prospects and paid contractor to Oregon is believed to be a focus of the NCAA probe.

"I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits," Lyles said. "The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should … I made a mistake and I'm big enough of a man to admit I was wrong."
While Chip Kelly declined to comment on the story, Oregon spokesman Dave Williford said that the school's stance "hasn't changed from our original statement" and the the school believes "it did nothing wrong." A statement that is contradicted by Lyles saying that Oregon's assistant director of football operations Josh Gibson played a role in bringing Lache Seastrunk to Eugene.
Lyles said Oregon's assistant director of football operations, Josh Gibson, had direct knowledge – and played an ancillary role – in Lyles helping Temple (Texas) High School star Lache Seastrunk petition to have his grandmother, rather than his mother, sign his national letter of intent with the Ducks in February 2010. Seastrunk's mother, who expressed opposition to her son about attending Oregon, otherwise could have blocked the signing.

"Indirectly I played a pivotal role in [Seastrunk signing with Oregon]," Lyles said.
The report then goes on to detail how Lyles helped a number of players make their way to Oregon, including having LaMichael James transfer to a school in Arkansas during his final semester of high school so that he wouldn't have to take a standardized test that could have affected his eligibility to play college football. Lyles also said that Chip Kelly, who was then Oregon's offensive coordinator, believed the transfer was a "great idea."

All in all, there's a whole lot in the Yahoo report that does not shine a good light on Oregon and it's relationship with Lyles. I recommend heading over there to read the entire thing. That is, unless you're an Oregon fan. If that's the case you should probably just pour yourself another drink. 

As for the school's reaction to the story, athletic director Rob Mullens released a statement on Friday night.

“The University of Oregon athletic department has and will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA inquiry,” said Mullens. “Our department is committed to helping the NCAA in any way possible and until their work is complete, we are unable to comment further.

“Oregon athletics remains committed to operating a program of integrity.” 
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 5, 2011 7:30 pm
 

Delany "disappointed" about Ohio State situation

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Speaking to reporters about the Big Ten title game Sunday afternoon, commissioner Jim Delany said he was not angry at Jim Tressel or how Ohio State was handling their NCAA case invovling several players taking extra benefits. In a line surely to get him a call from PETA, Delany deflected talk that he was upset and feels that the school will eventually move past the bad prediciment they find themselves in.

"I kind of reserve anger for my dog, I try not to get terribly angry. I was disappointed, I wish it hadn't happened," he recalled upon receiving the news. "It wouldn't be accurate for me to say I was angry. I knew it was serious but I don't remember going into a rage.

"I would say that whenever you have a program, or programs, that operate at the level of exposure and public notoriety as ours do, when things don't go well it's not going to be a fun time. It's been hard on the coach, it's been hard on the players, it's been hard on the fans. I will tell you that at the same time, the test is how resilient are you? How do you manage this kind of challenge?

"It's not easy for Ohio State, it's not easy for the Big Ten but I have tremendous confidence in that program to be resilient and to do the right thing and to reestablish themselves."

An attorney and a former NCAA enforcement agent, Delany has handled his fair share of infractions cases at multiple stops in his career. As the situation in Columbus seemingly takes a new twist every week though, he did say there were plenty of lessons to be learned for all of the conference's schools.

"I think that the number one lesson is, from my perspective, is that when you're in a position of responsibility - as an athletic director, a president, a head football coach - and you come across a certain kind of information, the responsibility and duty arrises to do something with that information," Delany said. "Going back 20 years, we've been working with our institutions about processes and procedures with how you handle information in that situation."

Delany has been criticized for his role in lobbying the NCAA for the so-called 'Buckeye Five' to be eligible for Ohio State's appearance in the Sugar Bowl last season. While he vaguly addressed the criticism, he did note that his actions were based on what he knew at the time.

"At the time that I was involved with the eligibility issues, I took the facts as they were presented to me," Delany said. "I analyzed it and for me, a lot of that has been written about that, but for me there wasn't a coach involvement, there wasn't a booster involvement, there wasn't an agent involvement, there kids that made some bad judgements. So on that basis, we forwarded the information to the NCAA and they made the decision that they made about the Sugar Bowl."

The involvement of Tressel, the now former Buckeyes head coach, did seem to take Delany back given all that has been revealed. He said that the facts of the case have generally been agreed to by all parties and realizes that sometimes even people you know best will withold information.

"I was surprised to find out in January that Coach Tressel had previous knowledge about that. I guess I'm enough of a realist to know that can happen," Delany said. "I knew it was a very serious matter because I know, we've said for a long, long time, making it very clear to our coaches and our athletic directors and our faculty, that when that kind of information becomes available you have no choice. Your only choice is to forward it through the system. I recognized at the time that the failure to forward it through the system was a fundamental error and I wasn't exactly sure how the NCAA or the institution would handle it. I was disappointed, I was surprised, but I've been around long enough to know that those things happen."

Posted on: June 2, 2011 6:57 pm
 

Former Buckeye LB says he was offered a car

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Well what do you know. A post about an Ohio State football player and his car, and the football player isn't Terrelle Pryor. Former Ohio State linebacker Brian Rolle, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in April, says that he was offered a car while he played at Ohio State, but he turned it down. In an appearance on ESPN Radio's All Night on Wednesday night, Rolle told the story to host Jason Smith and the Naples News has the details of the conversation.

“Somebody actually offered me a car and I said no,” Rolle told Smith. “I bought a 2002 VW Jetta in ’09 and someone offered to give me another car, a better car, and cheaper, and being the type of a person I am I said no to it because I wasn’t raised to do something like that.”

Rolle also went on to praise his former coach, Jim Tressel.

“I love the guy, he showed me how to grow from an immature kid coming to college now I’m a man getting ready to graduate,” Rolle said. “All because of him taking the chance coming down to Immokalee, a small town and recruit a kid like myself. I owe him a great deal for the success I’ve had thus far. I love him and he’s a guy I haven’t lost faith in and I still trust in him.” 

Rolle also went on to say that he isn't going to follow the trend of bashing his former teammate Terrelle Pryor, calling him a brother and saying he loves him. Which is probably the right thing to do. Understandably, Pryor has taken a lot of heat in recent days for everything that's gone on during his time in Columbus, but it's really not fair to blame Pryor and Pryor alone. He was one of many Ohio State players over the years who allegedly skirted NCAA rules while at Ohio State, and all under the watch of Tressel and the Ohio State Athletic Department. 

Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:48 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 3:14 pm
 

This Nissan 350Z is Terrelle Pryor's new(er) ride

Posted by Tom Fornelli



That's the car that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor showed up to a team meeting at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Monday night. It's a Nissan 350z with temporary tags. Which is a pretty, shall we say, gutsy move by Pryor to make considering that only hours before a report surfaced that he was the subject of an NCAA investigation directly related to the amount of cars that Pryor has been seen riding around Columbus in.

While I can't be sure of the year model that car is, a quick Google search for a 2010 Nissan 350z showed the price to generally be in the $30,000 range. I also found some 2009 models for about $27,000. Good thing the car's registered to his mother, Thomasina Pryor; so that settles all controversy, right? Right? Oh boy.

Hat tip: Doc Saturday
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