Tag:Ohio State NCAA investigation
Posted on: July 22, 2011 4:09 pm

Ohio State 'categorically denies' report

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Well, that didn't take long.

Ohio State has already responded to Friday's local television report that Jim Tressel alerted university compliance officials to a "tip" of violations in December, a month before the school claims it was alerted in its report to the NCAA. And for an official institutional statement, it does not pull its punches; the report is "categorically denied" and characterized as "unnecessarily damaging, inaccurate and entirely misleading."

The complete statement:
The university’s filings to the NCAA; Coach Tressel’s formal, written response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations on July 8; and the NCAA’s own Case Summary received yesterday on July 21 all make clear that when Coach Tressel was interviewed by a number of people within the institution on December 9 and December 16, he did not share his knowledge about the NCAA violation.

As we have previously stated to the public and the NCAA in our filings, Coach Tressel only sought advice from the University in January 2011 -- after the university had discovered e-mails that showed that he had knowledge of the matter and in contradiction to his statements to the University the previous December. That sequence of events is summarized clearly by the NCAA in its Case Summary.

The University categorically denies anything to the contrary, and such allegations are inconsistent with the conclusions of the NCAA and the University.

Any attempt to characterize events differently would be unnecessarily damaging, inaccurate and entirely misleading.
Assuming Ohio State is right and the report is wrong -- and the transcripts of Tressel's Feb. 8 statements to the NCAA would seem to clarify the matter one way or the other -- it would certainly help the Buckeyes avoid any charges of institutional wrongdoing.

And apparently, it has. More on today's developments out of Columbus forthcoming.
Posted on: June 7, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 6:26 pm

BREAKING: Pryor done at Ohio State

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For the past few weeks, the rumor has been that the NCAA investigation into the Ohio State improper benefits scandal would eventually claim the last season of eligibility of Buckeye star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Thought still not official, those rumors seem dramatically more substantial this afternoon as Pryor's lawyer, Columbus attorney Larry James, has announced his client has elected to end his Ohio State career. As first reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises:

James read the following statement to the Plain-Dealeron behalf of Pryor:
"In the best interest of my team, I have decided to forego my senior year of football at the Ohio State University" ...
James also spoke about the "emotion" of the decision:
"We've talked about the emotional roller coaster that he is going through," James told the Plain Dealer, "and even if he was cleared 100 percent it was going to be difficult."
The "if" in James's statement and his assertion that Pryor will not "necessarily" face further sanctions will, unfortunately, only fuel the fire that Pryor has come to the decision in the face of potential eligibility issues.

As for what's next for Pryor, James said he "thinks" his client will apply for the NFL's supplemental draft (though the lockout may cancel the event altogether), but left the door open for an unlikely year spent on campus as a student only.

Via the Ohio State blog Eleven Warriors, acting head coach Luke Fickell released the following statement which would seem to support the supplemental draft plan:

OU athletic director Gene Smith added that the department "wish[es Pryor] well in the next phase of his life." No other comment is expected tonight.

Eye on CFB
will have more on this story as it develops throughout this evening.

Posted on: June 7, 2011 11:12 am

Tressel, Pryor mentors in regular phone contact

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Contrary to previous e-mail releases that suggested their contact had been minimal and over the Internet, records obtained by the Columbus Dispatch and reported this morning show Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor's Pennsylvania mentors were in regular phone contact.

How regular?
After Tressel received an April 2, 2010, email from a former player warning him of potential NCAA violations, the coach exchanged 77 calls and text messages with and spent a total of 4 1/2 hours talking on the phone with Ted Sarniak, the hometown mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor in Jeannette, Pa. ...

Tressel also sent 91 text messages to Roy Hall, the current Jeannette football coach and another of Pryor's mentors. Hall previously told The Dispatch that he was not aware of the investigation and had not talked with Tressel about it.
As part of its investigation, the NCAA is reviewing the nature of Tressel's relationship with Sarniak, who the university claims does not qualify as an Ohio State booster. But in any case, the regular contact between Tressel and Sarniak and Hall will not look good contrasted with the lack of contact between the former Buckeye coach and the OSU compliance department.

Tressel also exchanged 31 text messages last Christmas Eve with Christopher Cicero, the Columbus lawyer whose original e-mail to Tressel was the coach's first notification that Buckeye players were receiving tattoo discounts and exchanging Buckeye memorabilia.

The school also released a number of phone records -- including to CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer -- from athletic director Gene Smith, though they show no contact between Smith and Pryor's mentors or Cicero. Fischer reports there is one interesting nugget from the Smith records, however: once the story broke and Smith knew his dpeartment to be facing an NCAA investigation, he put in a call to North Carolina athletic Dick Baddour, whose school will receive its "notice of allegations from the NCAA" as soon as this week.

But as for Tressel, he faces the NCAA in a hearing Aug. 12. Today's revelations won't be the most damning evidence against him--but they won't do a thing to help him avoid NCAA sanctions, either.

Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:12 pm

Tressel in trouble? Bylaw history says yes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This morning's latest story on the Jim Tressel brouhaha from the Columbus Dispatch answers a few pressing questions, such as: who was the infamous lawyer whose name was redacted in the publicly-released e-mails that Tressel elected not to forward to Buckeye compliance officials? Christopher T. Cicero , a former Buckeye walk-on who had formerly represented the tattoo parlor owner (Edward Rife) whose memorabilia purchases from (and tattoo discounts for) current Ohio State players kickstarted the entire mess.

The story also quotes an attorney with an NCAA- familiar law firm who answers the "could Tressel get tagged with a much longer suspension?" question with a hearty affirmative ("In those periods when he had an opportunity and a duty to disclose, he failed to do so," he said. "I think the NCAA could also come back and add failure to monitor or failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.") But the most chilling answer for Tressel supporters and Buckeye fans is what the Dispatch found in regards to past violators of NCAA bylaw 10.1, which prohibits coaches from withholding knowledge potential violations from the appropriate authorities (emphasis added):
Since 2006, the NCAA has sanctioned 27 schools for violating bylaw 10.1 ... Of the 12 coaches involved, only one kept his job . The others either resigned or were fired by their schools.

Former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien , one of his assistant coaches and former football running back Maurice Clarett each faced unethical-conduct charges by the NCAA. It cost all of them their careers at Ohio State.

Of course, most of those coaches didn't have their university presidents joking at press conferences that the coach had the power to fire him, as Gordon Gee did Tuesday. But all joking aside, that so few coaches have crossed the 10.1 line and lived to tell about it (even at OSU) illustrates why Tressel's future in Columbus is no laughing matter.

Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:50 pm

The NCAA does not appreciate being mocked, y'all

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As they did in the wake of their ruling that Cam Newton was eligible -- and the media firestorm that accompanied it -- the NCAA has again issued a statement outlining a recent decision , this time the Ohio State suspensions, and this time they are angry . Or at least, they're as angry as a near-faceless all-encompassing bureacracy can be:

Several media and others recently concluded that very different situations involving student-athlete eligibility should be considered independent of their unique circumstances or interpreted with a "one size fits all" approach.

In particular, they are comparing recent decisions involving The Ohio State University and Auburn University (and others). Some have even suggested the NCAA plays favorites in these types of situations based in part or in whole on financial considerations.

Nothing could be farther from the truth ...

[T]he notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact. Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd.

The NCAA throwing around words like "absurd" is the equivalent of your standard columnist or blogger typing out an expletive-laced ALL-CAPS rant. They are, to understate things for effect, not entirely happy.

And though he is well in the minority, this blogger for one doesn't blame them a bit. The criticism of the NCAA's Ohio State ruling seems to simultaneously accuse the organization of being too strict ("Why can Cecil Newton get away with asking for $180,000 while the Buckeyes get punished for a few underpriced tattoos and for selling their own possessions?" ) and, somehow, too lenient ("Why do the Buckeyes get to play in the bowl game when they're suspended?" ). As the saying goes, a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy, and from here it looks like handing down a five-game suspension but allowing the accused Buckeyes to play the biggest game of their current season looks like it fits that bill. (As for the Sugar Bowl's lobbying, please note that it was in the direction of Ohio State and Jim Tressel to keep them from sitting the players themselves, not the NCAA.)

The NCAA is also correct that comparisons between the Newton case and Ohio State's -- not to mention Reggie Bush's, Renardo Sidney's , and the like -- don't entirely fly when the NCAA has no evidence (as of yet) the Newtons received any benefits and plenty of evidence the Buckeyes did. As has been pointed out elsewhere , those accusing the NCAA of inconsistency miss that their response to accepted benefits has been very consistent indeed.

This isn't to say the NCAA hasn't earned its reputation for capriciousness over the years (and then some). There's solid arguments to be made that the Buckeyes should be sitting the Sugar Bowl, that their bylaws should have more clearly anticipated a situation like the Newtons', that the bylaws ought to be looser where relatively minor benefits are concerned (particulary considering how much money the athletes in question are earning for the programs they represent).

But the NCAA is right -- this time -- that just causally tossing out a comparison between the Newtons and the Buckeyes alongside words like "inconsistent" and "biased" isn't a fair method of criticism.

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