On June 24, 2004, Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger wrote the following in a letter addressed to OSU basketball coach Jim O’Brien:
“Section 4.1(d) of your employment agreement requires you to ‘know, recognize and comply’ with all applicable rules and regulations of the NCAA and to ‘immediately report to the Director [of Athletics] and to the Department of Athletics Compliance Office’ if you have ‘reasonable cause to believe that any person *** has violated *** such laws, policies, rules or regulations.’ You have materially breached this important term of your contract.
“Unfortunately, your admitted wrongdoings leave the University no choice. Pursuant to Section 5.1 (a) of your employment agreement, we intend to terminate such agreement for cause effective at 5 pm today, June 24, 2004.”
Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports broke the news Sunday that Jim Tressel had covered up and - as was later revealed by Ohio State - misled OSU officials as to how much he knew about past and present Ohio State football players selling OSU player gear and awards to a Columbus Tattoo parlor owner in exchange for cash and tattoos. Those actions by Buckeye football players were later confirmed as NCAA violations.
In their piece, Robinson and Wetzel noted two key provisions of Tressel’s Ohio State contract:
Section 4.1(d) of Tressel’s contract with Ohio State stipulates that he “supervise and take appropriate steps to ensure … members of the Team know, recognize and comply with any such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules and immediately report to the (Athletic) Director and to the (Athletic) Department’s Office of Compliance Services in writing if any person or entity, including without limitation, representatives of Ohio State’s athletic interests, has violated or is likely to violate any such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules.”
Section 5.1 (m) of his contract also states that failure to promptly report “any violations” could lead to “termination by Ohio State for cause.”
In a 2006 argument to the Ohio Supreme Court that challenged Ohio State firing O’Brien for cause, the coach’s lawyer said of Ohio State’s official termination letter:
The letter clearly identifies the contractual provisions upon which defendant relies in exercising its right of termination. Specifically, defendant claims that plaintiff breached Section 4.1.
OSU AD Geiger also wrote the following in O’Brien’s termination letter:
Furthermore, for each of the past five years, you violated NCAA Bylaw 30.3.5 which, by your signature on the annual NCAA Certification of Compliance form, requires you to confirm that you have self-reported your knowledge of any NCAA violations. We have self-reported this matter and other allegations related to the program to the NCAA.
Indeed, as noted by O’Brien’s lawyer to the Ohio Supreme Court in ‘06:
On September 15, 1999, plaintiff [O’Brien] signed an NCAA Certificate of Compliance certifying that during the 1998-1999 academic year he had “reported through the appropriate individuals *** any knowledge of violations of NCAA legislation involving [the] institution.”
In its report this week to the NCAA noting NCAA rules violations committed by Tressel, Ohio State reported that the coach:
Signed the NCAA certificate of compliance form on September 13, 2010, indicating he has reported possible violations to the institution.
The school also reported that Tressel repeatedly lied when asked directly by OSU officials on Dec. 16, 2010, about Ohio State players’ involvement with the Tattoo parlor cited in the emails the coach had received in April and June, 2010: Read more…