Tag:NCAA Investigations
Posted on: May 27, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Don't expect changes at Ohio State anytime soon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It seems as though the NCAA troubles at Ohio State have taken more twists than the latest episode of General Hospital, with a new story seemingly popping up every day. The latest twist seems to come from former Buckeye Ray Small denying many of his comments to the Ohio State student newspaper, The Lantern, about multiple student-athletes selling memorabilia and receiving discounts on cars. Small's story is just another thing for some fans to shake their heads at in the nearly five months since violations involving the so-called 'Buckeye Five' were brought to light.

“There are no other NCAA violations around this case,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a Dec. 23, 2010 press conference. “We’re very fortunate we do not have a systemic problem in our program. This is isolated to these young men, isolated to this particular incident. There are no other violations that exist.”

As time has passed from that presser however, Smith has seen several other damaging stories about additional violations - head coach Jim Tressel lying to about his knowledge of the case being the biggest - since then. It's quite possible that even more could come out before the school's August 12th hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Several alumni, fans and media members have publicly called for the resignation of some of Ohio State's leadership - particularly Smith and Tressel - as a way to stave off possible sanctions. That, however, doesn't appear to be on the table in the near future based on documents obtained Friday by the Associated Press and CBSSports.com.

Although the school declined to turnover communications from Tressel to administrators involving quarterback Terrelle Pryor (citing privacy laws), they did release several documents that pointed to Smith's standing in the athletic department.

More on Ohio State
"You are doing an excellent job leading the department of athletics and achieving national prominence. It is truly a privilege to work with you," University president E. Gordon Gee wrote in Smith's most recent performance review. "I want to strongly state - with great emphases - that I consider you a role model for leaders as to living the institutional values, incorporating the culture principles, and creating one of the highest performing organizations on campus.

"Over time we will reach the point where I recognize your University leadership role with a Vice President title."

Gee's comments, written in August of last year, seem to channel his thinking with Tressel and speak to both leaders' stature at the school despite being at the center of the controversy in Columbus.

“No, are you kidding me? I’m just hopeful that the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” Gee said during a March press conference.

While widely mocked about the comment, it appears it's very reflective of Gee's thinking about the Buckeyes head coach and the documents released today seem to reflect the same about Smith. Tressel's performance evaluation was done verbally and thus, was not able to be requested.

There's still plenty of time between today and the school having to explain themselves to the Committee on Infractions. It seems hard, however, to fathom that Gee will make a move against either Smith or Tressel in the meantime.




Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 7:26 pm
 

Ray Small changes his story - UPDATE

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday former Ohio State wide receiver Ray Small caused quite a stir in the college football world when he told Ohio State's student newspaper The Lantern that "everybody" was selling memorabilia and getting deals on cars while at Ohio State. As you'd expect, this brought a lot of blowback for Small from both current and former Buckeyes along with Ohio State fans.

Well, surprise, surprise, Small is suddenly changing his tune. In an interview with WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Small says that The Lantern "flipped" his words.

"It's hard being an athlete," Small said. "That was basically what I was saying. (The Lantern author) just flipped my words around and make the whole Buckeye Nation hate me."

Small went on to say that The Lantern got the majority of the story wrong.

The Lantern denied Small's allegation, Aker reported.

"We, 100 percent, stand by our story," said Lantern Editor Zach Meisel. "Everything (Small) said was recorded."

Small was quoted in The Lantern article and said that some players "don't even think about NCAA rules."

How convenient for Small. It's somewhat hard to believe that the original story could "flip" the words that Small said. I mean, if all he was trying to say was that it is hard being an athlete then all Small had to say was "it's hard being an athlete." He didn't have to talk about how easy it was to sell memorabilia for some extra cash, or about how getting deals on cars isn't that big of a deal. He also didn't need to say that there was "a lot [of dirt] on everybody." I mean, these are incredibly abstract ways to say "being an athlete is hard" aren't they?

I don't think anybody flipped Small's words at all. I just think that Small didn't think about the type of reaction his words would receive and he now regrets saying anything and is just trying to dig himself out of a hole.

UPDATE: Did The Lantern really "flip" Small's words around? Well, the paper released audio of the interview. You decide. 

Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:04 am
 

Delany: Ohio State interest is 'not positive'

Posted by Chip Patterson

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany found himself in Seattle last August, standing beside Michigan as they faced the NCAA Committee on Infractions for violations under former head coach Rich Rodriguez. However, it is not hard to figure out that the pressure on the conference is much more substantial as Ohio State prepares for their meeting with the COI on Aug. 12 in Indianapolis. Delaney spoke to AnnArbor.com at the Big Ten spring meetings on Tuesday, only mentioning that the Ohio State scandal has generated "a lot of interest," and not the positive kind of interest.

“It’s a difficult set of facts and a difficult circumstance,” Delany said. “In due respect, I think the facts are known and we have a hearing date and we’ll go to a hearing and we’ll answer the questions and present the case and the NCAA will make a determination. And that’s the juncture at which time you’ll be able to absorb sort of exactly what it means in the short and the long term.

“Right now, to me, it’s just talking about something well in advance.”

That difficult set of facts and circumstances are ones that leave very little room for reasonable doubt when it comes to Jim Tressel's negligence in reporting potential violations. Tressel has been present at the Big Ten meetings, but has not spoken with the media since his arrival. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is also present at the meetings, but he too has steered clear of the media. Since the NCAA sent their notice of allegations in April, the future of Ohio State football has been murky, at best, for Tressel and Co. I think if you Buckeye fans for their opinion on the situation, their response will likely be very similar to Delany.
Posted on: May 15, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Ohio State hasn't received gold pants yet

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Every year that Ohio State beats Michigan the Ohio State Gold Pants Club gives out gold pants charms to the players, coaches and everyone involved with Ohio State football. Well, nearly six months after Ohio State beat Michigan last season, the Gold Pants Club is yet to give the team its reward. Though it's not because the pants aren't ready yet, it's because nobody is quite sure what to make of the 2010 season just yet.

According to the club president and former Ohio State lineman, Jim Lachey, it's because Ohio State is "dealing with some outstanding issues we've never had to deal with before." That's what Lachey told the Columbus Dispatch, and of course, those "outstanding issues" is the investigation currently taking place at Ohio State. An investigation that, ironically enough, began with Ohio State players trading previous pairs of gold pants for tattoos.

Lachey says there are a few reasons why they don't want to hand out the pants yet, and it's not just because the win against Michigan could be vacated.

"If they vacate the win, it makes no sense to award the gold pants, at least in our minds," Lachey told the paper. "And if you hand them out and say, 'Oh yeah, we'll need to get them back if the win is vacated' - I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a smart way to go.

"And I'll be honest: We don't want to see any 2010 gold pants on the market right now."

Ouch. Not even Ohio State booster clubs trust the players anymore. Lachey also said that the club is considering the idea of holding on to all pairs of the pants until each player has run out of eligibility. In other words, if an Ohio State player beats Michigan four times during his college career, after his senior season, then he'll receiver all four pairs. At least that way, if the player does decide to sell them, it won't affect the football program.
 
Photo courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch 

Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 2:03 pm
 

Jim Tressel won't be resigning

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If it wasn't obvious before, it's pretty clear now that if Jim Tressel is not the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes next season it won't be because he stepped down from his posiiton willingly. It was reported on Friday that Tressel had hired the former chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, Gene Marsh, to be his lawyer.

But nothing indicates quitting is part of Tressel's thinking right now. And Gene Marsh, the former chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions who has been retained by Tressel in recent weeks, agreed with that sentiment in a brief interview with The Plain Dealer on Friday.

According to conversations with others in the past week, Tressel's intentions, like it or not, are to stay with his players and continue what he sees as his mission at Ohio State.

Which, in my opinion, is incredibly selfish of Tressel.

I've already let my feeling be known about Jim Tressel and what his future at Ohio State should be, writing last week that Ohio State should part ways with its head coach. Then there was former Ohio State Buckeye Chris Spielman who said he would be surprised if Jim Tressel were still coaching the Buckeyes in 2011, and that he also thought there would be "more stuff coming out." 

There truly is nothing good that can come to Ohio State by Tressel refusing to step down. His continued presence may not only bring a harsher penalty from the NCAA -- which Ohio State would deserve seeing as how it never fired him -- but also continued scrutiny of the school. Think of the damage that has been done to Ohio State's reputation in the college football world over the last few months. The worst part of Ohio State's old reputation was that it could win the Big Ten, but it couldn't compete with SEC schools on the BCS stage. Well, after finally beating an SEC team in Arkansas at the Sugar Bowl in January -- a win that itself was overshadowed by Terrelle Pryor and other suspended Buckeyes being allowed to play in the game -- Ohio State has only seen its image become one of a program gone awry.

While talking to The Birmingham News, Marsh said that he thought Tressel's history and record would benefit him during the investigation.

"Obviously, the track record should matter because some people's track records are good and some people's track records are bad," Marsh told the paper. "I was on the committee for nine years. All I can say is it always mattered to me."

Does Marsh mean the track record that former Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett first tipped us off to seven years ago? Sure, back then we may have brushed off Clarett's comments because of the source, but the things he claimed were taking place at Ohio State then -- free loaner cars, payment for jobs he didn't have to do and payments from boosters -- sure do ring a bit of a bell now, don't they?

Posted on: May 11, 2011 2:43 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 2:44 pm
 

Thaddeus Gibson's car was not free

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When the latest news regarding Ohio State and a car salesman first broke over the weekend, there was a lot to take in. While there may be all sorts of reasonable excuses for why so many Ohio State players and family members were buying cars from one man, Aaron Kniffin, at two separate dealerships, perhaps the thing that stuck out the most was what Thaddeus Gibson paid for his car. Or more specifically, what he didn't pay. According to the original report, the title on Gibson's car listed the purchase price at zero. Which was news to Gibson who claimed he was still making payments on the car.

And, as it turns out, he likely is. In another story in the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday, it turns out that Gibson paid quite a bit more than zero dollars for his Chrysler.

As Ohio State University and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles continue separate investigations into athletes' automobile purchases, one mystery has been solved.

BMV records show that former linebacker Thaddeus Gibson paid $13,700 for a 2007 Chrysler 300C that he bought from former Jack Maxton salesman Aaron Kniffin in June 2007. 

So at least that mystery is solved, and obviously things look a lot better for Ohio State in this case now that they have proof none of the players were getting cars for free. Still, this news doesn't absolve Ohio State of any possible wrongdoing. A lot of people associated with the school and football team have bought cars from Kniffin over the years and if the NCAA decides that they were getting a discount on the vehicles based on who they are, then the school is going to be punished for it.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Ohio State needs to part ways with Tressel

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last decade he's gone 106-22 with seven Big Ten titles and a national championship. Against Michigan, he's led his team to a 9-1 record, and has sent countless players from his school on to the NFL. All are wonderful accomplishments that make sure his name belongs beside the great Woody Hayes as one of the best football coaches in Ohio State history.

Unfortunately that name, Jim Tressel, will likely evoke some other images besides on field success years from now. Much like so many people remember Woody Hayes' name for the time he punched a player to put an end to his career, Jim Tressel's legacy could face the same kind of fate.

Now a lot of people will remember Tressel for his seeming lack of control or his flaunting the rules over the last year. First there were the revelations that Tressel's players had been selling and trading merchandise for discounts at a tattoo parlor, which was only made worse when we found out that Tressel knew about it months before Ohio State reported it to the NCAA.

That story, deservingly, put a huge target on Jim Tressel. It was a blatant and unacceptable skirting of the rules by the head coach. One, that if done by any other college football coach in the country without the accomplishments of Tressel, would have resulted in that coach being fired. But not at Ohio State where the school's president, E. Gordon Gee, was too busy making jokes about whether or not Tressel would fire him.

I don't think Gee or many others at Ohio State are still laughing.

Not with the story that broke on Saturday morning involving a couple of Columbus-area car dealerships, one salesman and a lot of Ohio State players and family members buying cars. Now, this isn't a situation that can be placed solely on the shoulders of Jim Tressel, but the entire compliance department of the Ohio State University. I mean, it's possible that the Committee on Infractions could find out that Ohio State players received discounts on numerous cars, and that Ohio State's compliance department approved of the purchases. That is the kind of thing that happens before the NCAA says those words that no school in this country ever wants to hear.

Lack of institutional control.

While it may not be fair to pin the blame for this latest Buckeye mishap squarely on Tressel's sweatervest, the fact is that right now, the best thing for Ohio State to do would be part ways with their head coach. He needs to go, and as I've already said, he already deserves to be fired for the way he handled "Tatgate."

There always has to be a fall guy. In sports, in business, in politics, in just about every walk of life. As the public face of Ohio State football, Tressel is that fall guy. This latest compliance disaster may not be his fault, but by firing Tressel, Ohio State could save itself some larger sanctions from the NCAA.

More on Ohio State

Make no mistake, there will be sanctions coming from the NCAA and the COI. If USC could be held responsible for Reggie Bush's car, then you have to think Ohio State will be as well. When the NCAA does get ready to come down on Ohio State, if it sees that Jim Tressel is still the head coach and has survived, it will look like Ohio State is sticking a certain finger in the air at the NCAA, the COI and college football in general.

From outside the NCAA perspective, the longer Tressel sticks in Columbus, the longer the media will continue digging into any other possible transgressions that may have taken place under Tressel's watch. As long as he is there, there will be media scrutiny, and as we've seen in recent months, the media has a tendency to be a better watchdog than the NCAA itself. And who knows what is left to be uncovered? Considering we first began hearing about questionable behavior at Ohio State under Tressel with Maurice Clarett in 2003, you'd be naive to think that these cars and those free tattoos were the only times that Buckeye football players possibly broke NCAA rules over the last eight years.

There are a lot of dark clouds over Columbus right now, and they won't be going anywhere for a while. Still, the sun is going to break through at some point, and the sooner Ohio State says goodbye to Jim Tressel, the sooner the sun will reappear.

 

Posted on: May 2, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Lyles calls accusations 'unequivocally false'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Willie Lyles has found his name in the headlines quite a bit in recent months as accusations about Lyles being a "street agent" and selling off players like Patrick Peterson and Lache Seastrunk have surfaced. Accusations that Lyles hadn't commented on publicly until he made an appearance on the Real Talk podcast with Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock. As you'd expect, Lyles denied all of the accusations during his hour-long interview.

“That was what was alleged and that was unequivocally false also,” Lyles told Whitlock about the rumors he offered Patrick Peterson to Texas A&M for $80,000. “That was never asked for. That type of conversation never happened.”

Lyles also addressed the Lache Seastrunk rumors that had Oregon paying him $25,000 for the running back before going on to say how everything has been blown way out of proportion.

“That is unequivocally false,” said Lyles. “(Lache) chose Oregon because he felt Oregon was the best fit for him. He liked the running backs coach, Gary Campbell, and he felt it was a good system and a good fit for him. (Lache) enjoyed the campus when he went on his visit and he enjoyed the people. He made the decision that was best for him.

“The sensationalism of (the scandal) just caught like wildfire. It’s one of those things when you are the smaller entity . . . it’s almost like it’s a David-vs.-Goliath battle. They know you don’t have the resources. They know you don’t have the things to fight that battle, so they feel that they can come out and say whatever they want about you at any point and time and you really don’t have the means to fight back. What I’m doing in this interview today is I really want to get my side of the story out there because one of the few things that I am left with is my name."

And I couldn't get through that quote without thinking about this quote from Marlo Stanfield (NSFW), not that I'm trying to compare Willie Lyles to a drug kingpin on a fictional television show. My point is that while they're two entirely different subjects, the premise is the same. This is Lyles' reputation and living being messed with here.

Of course, whether or not Lyles is being honest, that's for the NCAA to decide, not me.

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