Ex-Buckeye’s Confession Confirms OSU A.D. Lied

Today Ohio State student newspaper THE LANTERN published on-the-record comments from former Buckeye football player Ray Small, an OSU wide receiver once voted captain of the squad during the 2009 season, in which Small detailed receiving extra benefits outside NCAA rules in exchange for his Ohio State football player-only memorabilia.


As part of his comments, Small said:

They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody cause everybody was doing it.

“Everywhere you go, while you’re in the process of playing at Ohio State. You’re going to get a deal every which way.”

While that news may have been a revelation to some, as I pointed out here last month, Small’s documented NCAA rule-breaking, which likely happened between November 2008 to May 2010, was first made known to the Ohio State athletic department and the NCAA six months ago - and over a year ago to Jim Tressel.

On April 26 I noted that OSU’s knowledge of Small’s activities outside NCAA rules was confirmed by this (video below) March 13, 2011, ESPN report:


The ESPN report noted that attorney Christopher Cicero reported to Jim Tressel in a 2010 email that Small’s memorabilia was found in the possession of Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife. Five Buckeyes, including stars Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and Daniel Herron, were suspended for five games in the 2011 season by Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith because of their association with Rife.

ESPN’s revelation came despite the fact that Small’s name had been redacted by Ohio State in its release of an initial, abridged set of emails between Cicero and Tressel. Also redacted from the email documents by Ohio State at that time was the name of former Ohio State player T.J. Downing, who left the program after the 2003 season.

Weeks later, after claiming it had “inadvertently omitted” some of the Cicero-Tressel emails in its initial media release, Ohio State forwarded the complete correspondence between the Columbus attorney and Ohio State coach to select Ohio media outlets, including the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. That second set of emails revealed Downing’s name, but Small’s name remained redacted.

Why was Downing’s name unredacted while Small’s remained hidden?

Any violations that Downing might’ve committed would’ve been considered outside the NCAA rule enforcement statute of limitations, while Small’s now-confirmed violations would still be considered applicable.

Ohio State continuing to redact Small’s name from the complete set of emails is all the more troubling considering the comments made by school Athletic Director Gene Smith in announcing penalties against the football program on Dec. 23, 2010, stemming from OSU player involvement with tattoo parlor owner Rife.

At that time, six Buckeyes were cited by Smith for taking extra benefits from Rife. But those players did not include Small, who had also committed Rife-related violations that the NCAA could consider actionable. Despite that fact, Smith said at the time:

There are no other NCAA violations around this case. We’re very fortunate that we do not have a systemic problem in our program. This is isolated to these young men, and isolated to this particular instance.”

Smith knew of Small’s NCAA rules-violating activities involving Rife, which were inside the NCAA’s statute of limitations, when he made that statement.

If Smith believed that Small’s actions were not subject to NCAA penalties, why did Ohio State redact Small’s name from the later-released, complete Cicero-Tressel email correspondence while revealing former Buckeye T.J. Downing’s name?

Clearly Smith misrepresented the situation within the Ohio State program with his comments on Dec. 23, 2010, to the media - at the very least as it pertained to Small.

Put more bluntly, he lied.

More troubling for Ohio State is that the NCAA has also known of Small’s activities from the very beginning, as it, at least according to Smith, had access to the unredacted emails and unredacted Department of Justice letter which first prompted Ohio State to investigate Rife’s association with OSU football players. Small’s name also appeared in the DOJ letter as it pertained to selling OSU player-only memorabilia to Rife.

That’s also why it’s almost a certainly now that Small, despite playing down his relationship with Rife in his interview with The Lantern, is the anonymous “Player G” thusly described in the April 25 NCAA Notice of Allegations to Ohio State:

Player G: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,500), two “Gold Pants” awards ($250 each), helmet ($150) and pants ($30) from Michigan game and Rose Bowl watch ($250) for $2,430. Received $55 discount on two tattoos. Paid $100 to obtain team autographs on two helmets. Received $2,420 discount on purchase of used vehicle and $800 loan for vehicle repairs. (November 2008 to May 2010).

Again, Ohio State AD Smith did not cite any of the applicable violations committed by “Player G.” - later certified by the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations - in applying sanctions against his own football program.

That the NCAA knew of Small’s rule-breaking actions makes the governing body’s decision not to charge Ohio State with a ‘failure to monitor’ violation in the same Notice of Allegations letter to the school all the more puzzling.

In the case of Small, thanks to the Cicero-Tressel emails and DOJ letter, the NCAA knows that Tressel also knew about Small’s rules violations but did not report them - and later lied to OSU investigators about any knowledge of Small’s activity. (The fact that Small had left school was immaterial because his actions were still well within the NCAA’s statute of limitations as it pertained to rules violations.)

If the NCAA does eventually charge OSU and its current football coach with a ‘failure to monitor’ violation, which is well within the governing body’s rights, Tressel’s situation would be a virtual mirror image of the 2008 NCAA case involving former Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

Sampson, like Jim Tressel, was charged with the NCAA’s Cardinal Sin: violating NCAA Bylaw 10.1.

From the NCAA Notice of Allegations to Ohio State regarding Tressel, April 21, 2011:

[NCAA Bylaw 10.1]

It was reported that Jim Tressel, head football coach, failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics and violated ethical-conduct legislation as required by the NCAA legislation and violated ethical-conduct legislation when he failed to report information concerning violations of NCAA legislation and permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics competitions while ineligible.

Tressel was also confirmed by Ohio State to have signed the NCAA’s annual Certificate of Compliance form on Sept. 15, 2010, despite knowledge of existing NCAA violations involving Small and numerous other Buckeye football players. (A violation of Bylaw 18.4.2.1.1.4)

From the NCAA Public Infractions Report to Indiana regarding Sampson, November 25, 2008:

[NCAA Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(d) and 11.1.2.1]

From May 25, 2006, through May 24, 2007, the former head coach acted contrary to NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he (a) knowingly violated committee penalties set forth in the Oklahoma report (Findings B-1-b and B-1-c) and (b) failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing false or misleading information to the institution and the enforcement staff. (c) Over the same period, the former head coach failed to monitor the men’s basketball program for rules compliance and to promote an atmosphere of compliance within it.

Tressel has not yet been slapped with a failure to monitor charge (11.1.2.1) but with three months to go before Ohio State defends itself to the NCAA Committee on Infractions on August 12, that could change depending on the pending NCAA investigation and continued media scrutiny.

If that additional charge is levied against the OSU coach, Tressel will face the same stunning, penalty precedent set by the NCAA in its 2008 Infractions Report to Sampson and Indiana.

A precedent that was partially set by current Tressel attorney Gene Marsh, who was a member of the NCAA Committee on Infractions that placed the unprecedented, career-wrecking constraints on the ex-Hoosiers hoops coach. (See below.)

Indiana University, Bloomington
Public Infractions Report November 25, 2008

NCAA COMMITTEE ON INFRACTIONS
Eileen K. Jennings
Alfred J. Lechner, Jr.
Edward (Ted) Leland
Gene A. Marsh (Jim Tressel attorney)
Andrea (Andi) Myers
James Park, Jr.
Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, chair
Dennis E. Thomas

UNETHICAL CONDUCT BY FORMER HEAD COACH; FAILURE TO MONITOR HIS PROGRAM AND TO PROMOTE AN ATMOSPHERE OF COMPLIANCE WITHIN IT. [NCAA Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(d) and 11.1.2.1]

  • From May 25, 2006, through May 24, 2007, the former head coach acted contrary to NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he (a) knowingly violated committee penalties set forth in the Oklahoma report (Findings B-1-b and B-1-c) and (b) failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing false or misleading information to the institution and the enforcement staff. (c) Over the same period, the former head coach failed to monitor the men’s basketball program for rules compliance and to promote an atmosphere of compliance within it.

C. PENALTIES.

a. From November 25, 2008, through November 24, 2011, the former head coach is prohibited from engaging in any on or off-campus recruiting activities or interactions with prospective student-athletes (or their parents or legal guardians) prior to their first full-time enrollment at any employing institution and whether or not they have signed a National Letter of Intent, accepted an offer of financial aid, or are recruited by the institution as these are or may be defined in NCAA Bylaws.

Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, phone calls and phone conversations; contacts and evaluations as they are or may be defined in NCAA bylaws; electronic transmissions, general correspondence and other recruiting material as they are or may be defined in NCAA Bylaws; official and unofficial visit activities; and activities or interactions with prospective student-athletes that are prohibited to a representative of the employing institution’s athletics interests.

Further, the former head coach must provide contemporaneous and detailed records of any telephone call made to or received from a scholastic or non-scholastic organization in which prospective student-athletes participate or are members, including, but not limited to, coaches or staff members of high school, club, or nonscholastic basketball teams. These records must document the purpose of, and parties to, each telephone call and that its content neither involved discussion of prospective student-athletes nor was of a recruiting nature.

The former head coach is prohibited from using any phone to make such calls except his office phone and any additional phone assigned to him by his employing institution. He must submit his telephone logs for each of these phones to the compliance office on at least a monthly basis. The compliance office must institute strict monitoring of records.

This monitoring must include at least monthly reconciling of telephone logs with phone records and spot checking records to determine that they accurately reflect conduct. Further, at least twice annually the employing institution must review records of at least one month’s home phone calls and any personal cell phone calls of the former head coach to assure that no prohibited phone calls were made.

b. During the complete months of June, July and August, the former head coach is prohibited from any on- or off-campus recruiting activities or interactions with prospective student-athletes, or their parents or legal guardians, in the same way that he is prohibited under (a) above.

c. From November 25, 2011, to November 24, 2012, the former head coach is restricted to one-half the permissible recruiting contacts and evaluations that may be made with regard to any applicable daily, weekly, or monthly limits. (For example. Under current bylaws, a men’s basketball coach may visit a prospect’s high school once weekly during a contact period.

The former head coach is restricted to making visits once every other week.) During the same period, the former head coach is restricted to onehalf the maximum number of daily, weekly, or monthly permissible telephone calls that may be made to (i) prospective student-athletes (or their parents or legal guardians) on or after June 15 of their sophomore year in high school through July 31 of their junior year and to (ii) prospective student-athletes (or their parents or legal guardians) on or after August 1 of their junior year of high school. (For example. The current applicable weekly limit in the sport of men’s basketball is two phone calls weekly to a prospect in his senior year in high school.

The former head coach is restricted to making no more than one call weekly.) The only exceptions to these telephone penalties are those set forth in NCAA Bylaws 13.1.3.3.1 (official visit); 13.1.3.3.2 (National Letter of Intent); and 13.1.3.3.3 (telephone calls subsequent to National Letter of Intent signing or other written commitment). The former head coach is prohibited from using any phone in recruiting except his office phone and any additional phones assigned to him by the employing institution. He must submit his telephone logs for each of these phones to the compliance office on at least a monthly basis.

The compliance office must institute strict monitoring of records. This monitoring must include at least monthly reconciling of telephone logs with phone records and spot checking records to determine that they accurately reflect conduct. Further, at least twice annually the employing institution must review records of at least one month’s home phone calls and any personal cell phone calls of the former head coach to assure that no prohibited phone calls were made.

d. From November 25, 2012, to November 24, 2013, the former head coach must continue to comply with the telephone penalties and documentation set forth in (c) above and the compliance office must continue to reconcile telephone logs with records as set forth in (c) above.

e. If the former head coach is employed at a member institution at the times of the 2009 through 2013 NCAA Regional Rules seminars, then he must attend the seminar (five total possible regional seminars) and, within one month of each seminar, provide to the Director - Committees on Infractions a list of those sessions attended, together with his certification of attendance.

f. An institution that employs the former head coach during the time that any of the above-listed penalties are in effect shall submit a report to the Director - Committees on Infractions no later than 30 days after its first employment of the former head coach (or, if the former head coach is employed on November 25, 2008, then no later than December 23, 2008).

The report shall set forth the employing institution’s understanding of the above-listed penalties that are in effect at the time of initial employment and its responsibilities to monitor compliance. The report also shall set forth how the employing institution will monitor his conduct and that of the other coaches in the men’s basketball program to assure compliance with these penalties.

Thereafter every six months until November 24, 2013, an employing institution will submit a supplemental report that continues to document its monitoring of the former head coach and the other coaches in the men’s basketball program.

At the end of the showcause period imposed on the former head coach or upon termination of employment while the show-cause order is in effect, the president of the employing institution shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the penalties were complied with during the time of employment at the employing institution. If the president is unable to so affirm, he shall so inform the committee.
g. The former head coach and any institution that employs him during the time that any of the above-listed penalties are in effect are admonished that these penalties shall be construed broadly and adhered to strictly and that the institution must institute safeguards against inadvertent violations or departures from these penalties. (For example, during the period in which the former head coach is prohibited from recruiting, prospects should not be provided his telephone number.)

Any violation or departure from these penalties, even if believed to be inadvertent and/or de minimus must be reported immediately to the Director - Committees on Infractions for review and possible action by the committee.

Should an inadvertent violation or departure from these penalties occur, the former head coach is admonished that he must immediately cease the conduct, document its occurrence, and report it to the compliance office at his employing institution for immediate submission to the Director - Committees on Infractions.

For example, if the former head coach answers the phone of an assistant coach and a prospect is on the line, the former head coach must immediately hang up. He may neither take a message nor list the name and phone number of the prospect. The only permissible conversation is for the former head coach to tell the prospect, “I must hang up as the NCAA has prohibited me from talking to prospects or taking a message. Please phone assistant coach [here insert name].”

The former head coach also must immediately document the circumstances of the telephone call and report it to the compliance office for transmission to the Director - Committees on Infractions.

Should an employing institution choose to challenge the imposition of the abovelisted penalties restricting the athletically related duties of the former head coach then, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2.2-(l), it must do so by scheduling an appearance before the Committee on Infractions to show cause why it should not be penalized for failure to comply with the penalties.

The above penalties do not include additional sanctions that were placed on the IU hoops program and assistant coaches.

Safe to assume OSU officials are well aware of this precedent - and know that if Tressel were to be dealt a fraction of the penalties suffered by Sampson, there’s no chance he could continue as Ohio State coach.

So if additional NCAA rules violations by the Ohio State football program continue to surface before the school’s August 12 appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions - thanks to revelations like the ones provided by Ray Small today - Tressel will have a lot more to worry about than a permanent stain on his Ohio State coaching record.

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The Lost Tressel Emails: Proof of OSU Coverup?

Sunday I obtained the complete email correspondence between Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, attorney Christopher Cicero and Terrelle Pryor “mentor” Ted Sarniak. (See below.)

Ohio State email embargo: anatomy of a coverup

On April 25, 2011, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH noted that it had also recently obtained Tressel’s complete email correspondence with Cicero and Sarniak, though in its subsequent report on the contents of those previously unseen emails, the Dispatch itself failed to post images of the copies of the complete email exchange between the three.

So why did Ohio State not include all of the Tressel emails in its March 8 press release, which included OSU’s self-report to the NCAA on Tressel’s NCAA violations? OSU spokesman Jim Lynch told the Dispatch on April 25:

“These emails do not raise any new matters. These emails were inadvertently omitted in the copying process for inclusion in the information that was provided on March 8.”

One of those electronic mail messages “inadvertently omitted in the copying process for inclusion in the information that was provided on March 8″ was Tressel forwarding a Cicero email to Pryor mentor Sarniak with the message:

This guy, Chris Cicero, is a criminal lawyer in town. He played here when I was an assistant coach in the early 1980s. He has always looked out for us. jt”

Sarniak then responded:

“Received the information. Ted”

During his March 8 press conference to explain why he did not report the NCAA violations to Ohio State officials, Tressel said,

“Confidentiality was requested by the attorney, so I followed that.”


In Ohio State’s March 8 self-report of the Tressel email-borne NCAA violations, it did not report to the NCAA that Tressel had forwarded any of the Cicero emails to Pryor mentor Sarniak.

Of Tressel’s defense, Ohio State noted in its official self-report to the NCAA:

“In particular, he (Tressel) was protecting the confidentiality of the attorney (which the attorney requested) and of the federal criminal investigation.”

The problem with Tressel’s confidentiality defense to the NCAA and the public was, of course, he forwarded Cicero’s very first email to Sarniak.

An April 2, 2010, email in which Cicero did not request confidentiality. (He did not do so until an April 16 email to Tressel.)

Jim Tressel Email Complete String

So how would the public have reacted to Tressel’s “confidentiality” defense had the email from Tressel to Sarniak not been “inadvertently omitted” in the March 8 document release by Ohio State to the media and public? Read more…

Tressel: False NCAA Innocent Claims Before OSU

Much has been made of Jim Tressel lying repeatedly to Ohio State compliance officials about his specific knowledge of NCAA violations committed by Ohio State football players.

Jim Tressel denied NCAA violations at Youngstown State despite introducing booster Mickey Monus to star quarterback Ray Isaac

(Tressel: Football coach and also later A.D. at YSU between 1985-2000)

That coverup will ultimately cost Tressel his job.

Though had Tressel been held to the same accountability standard at his previous coaching stop, he would’ve never made it to Ohio State in the first place.

On February 16, 2000 (PDF) the NCAA informed Youngstown State in a formal letter that while Tressel was the head coach of the school’s football program, the following NCAA violations occurred:

On numerous occasions during the period beginning August - September 1988 and continuing through the spring of 1992, a representative of the institution’s athletic interests, who was at the time a member and chairperson of the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees, gave at least $10,000 in cash and checks to a football student-athlete for his personal use.

In the fall of 1988, the athletics representative instructed the football student-athlete to contact a business associate regarding the use of automobiles. The football student-athlete contacted the business associate who provided the free use of automobiles to the eligible football student- athlete.

The former football student-athlete testified that, while a trustee, the athletics representative provided him with at least $10,000 in cash and checks beginning in August or September 1988 through spring 1992. The first cash payment received by the former football student-athlete was for $150 in 1988 to attend a fair. Subsequent cash and checks were received, sometimes from the athletics representative himself and on other occasions from his business associate and employees.

In his testimony, the former student-athlete could not always remember the particulars regarding the date, amount and circumstances of each cash payment received. However, he also received at least six checks totaling $7,600, which were introduced into evidence by the government at the jury tampering trial.

The former student-athlete’s testimony regarding receipt of money was corroborated by other witnesses at the trial, including the booster himself. The former football student-athlete was interviewed by telephone in connection with the institution’s internal investigation. During the telephone interview the student- athlete affirmed his trial testimony.

Both the former football student-athlete and a business associate of the athletics representative reported that while a trustee the booster arranged with the business associate to provide the former football student-athlete free use of automobiles. The business associate stated that he provided the former student-athlete with two or three automobiles during the time period in question.

A number of the student-athlete’s former teammates were personally interviewed by the institution’s Internal Review Committee in connection with the institution’s internal investigation. All former players interviewed, except one, either stated that the student-athlete had a car during the football season or that they heard others talking about his having a car and speculated as to how he could afford it.

In its February 2000 letter, the NCAA confirmed those violations to Youngstown State and subsequently punished the school’s football program up to 12 years after the first violation occurred - well outside the NCAA’s normal statute of limitations pertaining to infractions.

So why did it take so long?

The NCAA also reported in its 2000 letter to YSU that the school’s “former director of enforcement advised the institution in January 1994 that anonymous information had been received alleging the following possible NCAA violations:

(i) at least thirteen football student-athletes were employed by a local business during the football season, (ii) the former football student-athlete drove an automobile during the 1991 football season provided by the business (the business was owned by the former trustee and athletics representative) and (iii) the director of athletic development provided money to non-scholarship student-athletes through the institution’s booster organization, the Penguin Club. In his letter, the former director of enforcement advised the institution that if it chose to investigate the anonymous allegations of NCAA violations and found that violations actually occurred, it would be obligated to self-report the violations to the NCAA enforcement staff.

Why did Youngstown State and the NCAA not pursue those violations in 1994?

This:

Upon receipt of the information contained in the letter from the former director of enforcement, the university president held a series of five meetings within the next month with institutional staff members including the faculty athletics representative, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics, the head football coach and the compliance officer. In these meetings, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics and the head football coach assured the president that these allegations were baseless.

Despite the president’s instructions to review the anonymous allegations, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics failed to do so and sent a memorandum once again assuring the president that there was no basis to substantiate the allegations and further inquiry was not necessary. Based upon these assurances contained in the memorandum, the president advised the NCAA by letter dated February 18, 1994, that there was no basis to substantiate the allegations or to suggest that a further inquiry was appropriate.

Jim Tressel is “head football coach.

Later in the 2000 NCAA letter to Youngstown State that confirmed the aforementioned violations and subsequent penalties, the NCAA scolded YSU for its failure to followup on what later was found to be a systematic series of violations involving its star player while Tressel was football coach:

According to these individuals, the review in 1994 consisted of informal meetings among the director of athletics, the head football coach and the assistant director of athletics/senior woman administrator. Specifically, there were no interviews with other coaches, members of the football team, the former football student-athlete in question or the former trustee booster. There was no in-depth investigation of the information received in 1994 regarding possible NCAA violations. When asked why no in-depth review was conducted, the former director of athletics stated that he believed a disgruntled former employee had made the anonymous allegations to the NCAA. The head football coach agreed.

Tressel is “head football coach.”

The Youngstown State trustee, booster and athletics representative who the NCAA cited as providing $10,000 and free use of automobiles to a YSU player was convicted felon Mickey Monus. The Youngstown State football player who received those benefits from Monus, while playing for Tressel, was quarterback Ray Isaac. (Isaac was the star player on YSU’s Division I-AA national championship team in 1991.)

The details of the arrangement between Monus and Isaac were made public during a 1998 federal court case involving Monus and Isaac over alleged jury tampering during a previous case that resulted in Monus being convicted on 109 counts of financial fraud. (Monus was sentenced to 19 1/2 in federal prison for the crimes at the time.)

While under oath Monus told a jury that during Isaac’s freshman year under Tressel:

“I got a call from Mr. Tressel and I believe the call was that he wanted me to be introduced to Ray and to work out some kind of job for him.”

While under oath during the same 1998 federal court case, Isaac confirmed to a jury that Monus subsequently provided him with thousands of dollars in cash and the use of free automobiles throughout his time as a star Youngstown State player - after Tressel set up an introduction between the two parties.

This is also the same Monus who, in its 2000 sanctions letter to Youngstown State, the NCAA accused of having “at least” 13 then-current YSU football players on his employee payroll “during the season” while Tressel was coach.

In a January 4, 2011, profile of Tressel in COLUMBUS MONTHLY, Dave Ghose reported of the relationship between Monus and Tressel: Read more…

The Tressel Die Is Cast, But What O’ The Program?

With the NCAA’s now formal recognition of Jim Tressel’s unrepentant - as confirmed by Ohio State AD Gene Smith recently - commission of the governing body’s mortal sin, lying repeatedly to investigators after covering up NCAA violations, Ohio State Jim Tressel football coach has a choice going forward.


He can resign, retire or be fired.

From refracting the NCAA Notice of Allegations from every possible angle the past 24 hours, that fact is clear enough. What isn’t so straightforward though is what more the NCAA wants from Ohio State. That is, how far it is willing to go to make OSU an example for other programs in the strikingly non-compliant world of college football.

The NCAA may have left a clue though in its interesting decision to include the mystery “Player G” revelation in Friday’s NOA:

Player G: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,500), two “Gold Pants” awards ($250 each), helmet ($150) and pants ($30) from Michigan game and Rose Bowl watch ($250) for $2,430. Received $55 discount on two tattoos. Paid $100 to obtain team autographs on two helmets. Received $2,420 discount on purchase of used vehicle and $800 loan for vehicle repairs. (November 2008 to May 2010).

A former player, Ohio State curiously did not mention “Player G.” in its original tattgate self-report in December, though the player was with the Buckeyes through the 2009 season and confirmed to have committed NCAA violations during his time as an Ohio State football player.

Who is he? While no one officially knows outside the NCAA and OSU, the attorney who allegedly first tipped off Tressel to the NCAA violations committed by DeVier Posey and Terrelle Pryor may have provided the answer.


In ESPN’s March 13, 2011, Outside The Lines report Columbus lawyer and former Ohio State football player Christopher Cicero told ESPN correspondent John Barr that memorabilia from two former Buckeyes, T.J. Downing and Ray Small, was also found in the possession of now-notorious Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.

Per ESPN’s Barr, Cicero noted that fact to Tressel in at least one of the emails in question, though Downing and Small were redacted from the communique by Ohio State officials.

Downing left the Ohio State football program in 2006, but Small played through the 2009 season and currently has several items from his playing career available for purchase online. Some of those items correspond to the “Player G.” description.

Though Cicero identified Downing and Small, he did not expound on at least two other significant claims in his emails to Tressel that indicated there was more to the memorabilia-for-extra-benefits story than Ohio State has reported.

Actual Jim Tressel Email

In one of his emails to Tressel (excerpt above), Cicero described additional Ohio State player-only items Rife owned:

He told me he has about 15 pairs of cleats (with signatures), 4-5 jerseys - all signed by players … 

He told me he has about 9 rings Big 10 championship…

[Redacted] National Championship Ring (no surprise here either)

Now compare that to what the NCAA cited in its sanctions against five Ohio State players in December, 2010:

  • Mike Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
  • Daniel Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
  • DeVier Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50,
  • Terrelle Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.
  • Solomon Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

So where are the “15 pairs of cleats“? The other 3-4 Ohio State jerseys? The other five Big 10 Championship rings? And the National Championship ring?

And …

Boom Herron Helmet For Sale: Wasn't Listed In NCAA report

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

  • What about former Buckeye Antonio Pittman’s claim that football players selling Ohio State player-only swag for tattoos has been going on since 2001?

Antonio Pittman Tweet: Ohio State players getting tattoo hookups since 2001

  • What about this line in a Cicero email to Tressel:

Actual Jim Tressel Email

“I will try to get these items back that the government wants to keep for themselves.  Which is screwed up in an of itself. I know who specifically in the District Attorney’s office that is working on this matter and know both of them well so I will try if the opportunity presents itself.”

If the feds are indeed in possession of Buckeye player-only memorabilia that could further incriminate Ohio State with the NCAA, shouldn’t those items be promptly turned over to the NCAA?

Fine Link Ink Ohio State Players Facebook Friends

On the latter, the NCAA will require Ohio State to detail all relationships between Rife and Buckeye football players - past and present, per this passage from Friday’s NOA:

NCAA Notice of Allegations to Ohio State: Rife relationships with players

Though the NCAA has yet to charge Ohio State with the dreaded “failure of institutional control” or “failure to monitor” penalties, if the governing body wasn’t going to continue to plumb the depths of what might be additional, significant Ohio State impropriety, why did the NCAA cite the “Player G.” violations in the Notice of Allegations?

Jim Tressel contradicts earlier confidentiality claim at DSCC

With Tressel’s web of deception sufficiently confessed, it appears the future of the Ohio State football program as a near-term, viable enterprise is more tied to the NCAA’s discovery of a “Player H.” or a “Player I.” than its current coach’s assured demise.

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Docs: NCAA Notice of Allegations Sent To Ohio St.

Here is actual the NCAA Notice of Allegations received by Ohio State last Friday, along with the cover letter received by school President Gordon Gee.

Ohio State Notice of Violations re: Jim Tressel, Ohio State football players Read more…

Video: NCAA “Movement” On Tressel This Week?

Sunday morning WBNS-TV in Columbus reported that there may be news from the NCAA this week on its latest investigation of Jim Tressel and the Ohio State football program.


From WBNS-TV reporter Dan Fronzcak:

We may soon learn whether Ohio State’s self-imposed five game suspension for football coach Jim Tressel will stand with the NCAA.

10TV Sports has learned there could be some movement in the investigation into Tressel as early as next week, as both sides hope to resolve the issue before the start of the 2011 football season, 10TV’s Dan Fronczak reported.

During Ohio State’s spring scrimmage on Saturday, OSU athletics director Gene Smith said he could not confirm when the investigation would conclude.

“We, we being Ohio State, are not going to talk about the issue anymore,” Smith said. “When it happens, it happens.”

At a March 8 press conference, Smith confirmed in a university report to the NCAA that Tressel lied to Ohio State investigators repeatedly about the coach’s knowledge of multiple, now-confirmed NCAA violations committed by Ohio State football players. Days after that press conference, Ohio State increased Tressel’s suspension from two games to five games.

Last Tuesday OSU AD Smith admitted to Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS that Tressel had been ordered by the school to apologize at the initial March 8 press conference called by Ohio State to announce sanctions against the coach: Read more…

Ohio State AD Conduct Indicates Further Coverup

Thanks to more than one open records request by the media for Jim Tressel’s emails, on March 8, 2011, Ohio State self-reported multiple NCAA violations committed by the school’s football coach.

Jim Tressel and Gene Smith: Ohio State Press Conference

(Why was forwarded email info not included in OSU self-report to NCAA?)

The Ohio State self-report to the NCAA detailing Tressel’s rules violations, which was signed by Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and school President Gordon Gee, noted:

Between the period of April 2, 2010, and January I5, 2011, Head Football Coach Jim Tressel violated the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 10.1 when he failed to notify institutional oflicials of information he received beginning in April 2010 that concerned potential violations of NCAA preferential treatment legislation with student-athletes on the football team.

Coach Tressel received e-mails from an attorney that provided specific information about two student-athletes selling memorabilia to a local tattoo parlor owner. These e-mails also indicated that one student-athlete may have received fiee and/or discounted services at a tattoo parlor. Although Coach Tressel had the information, he did not inform institutional officials.

From the OSU report, here’s part of what was presented as Tressel’s defense for not revealing the nature of the emails and later lying to OSU officials about the matter:

In particular, he was protecting the confidentiality of the attorney (which the attorney requested) and of the federal criminal investigation. He prioritized potential criminal activity and the possibility of interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation over potential NCAA violations.

The Ohio State report concluded, in part, to the NCAA:

His lack of action in this matter appears to have been the result of indecisiveness regarding the appropriate actions to take in this specific situation in which he was placed, as opposed to a blatant disregard of NCAA legislation.

During a March 8 press conference, Tressel said of why he never revealed the content of the emails:

I needed to keep sight of the fact that confidentiality was requested by the attorney, so I followed that.”

Following his continuing “confidentiality” defense, Tressel was asked by Yahoo Sports reporter Dan Wetzel during the OSU press conference if “he (Tressel) forwarded the emails to anyone?

Before Tressel could answer, Ohio State Athletic Director Smith cut off the coach - but not before a nod by Tressel seemed to indicate that the coach had affirmed that he did indeed forward an email or emails from Cicero to someone.

Tressel’s subsquent remark to Defense Supply Center Columbus personnel during a later speech - “I didn’t get as wise of counsel as I should have” - also seemed to contradict the coach’s earlier defense that he kept knowledge of NCAA violations by Ohio State football players completely confidential. Read more…

New Video Of Tressel Changing His Story. Again.

Wondering why Ohio State suddenly decided to increase Jim Tressel’s suspension from two to five games?

Jim Tressel DSCC Speech On Unwise Counsel

Good question.

There is at least one thing I can confirm about the suspension. Read more…

‘Confidential’ Tressel Blaming ‘Unwise Counsel’?

This week longtime Ohio State football beat reporter Brandon Castel uncovered perhaps the most revealing quote from Jim Tressel since the football coach was cited ten days ago by Ohio State for covering up and lying to school investigators about his knowledge last April of NCAA violations involving Buckeye football players.

Jim Tressel contradicts earlier confidentiality claim at DSCC

Castel, a past ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sporting News and Rivals contributor, noted in a Wednesday piece on the 15-year-old, Ohio State-centric site The Ozone a curious comment Tressel made at a U.S. military installation in Columbus on Tuesday: Read more…

Do Recruits Have Legal Recourse Against OSU?

Questions continue to abound about Ohio State’s account of the details of its investigation into NCAA violations committed by head football coach Jim Tressel and past and present Ohio State football players.

Ohio State Delayed Tressel Interview, NCAA notification past national signing day

(OSU reported Tressel major NCAA violation the day after signing day)

In its March 8 report on Tressel’s NCAA violations, the school reported that it first learned of emails between Tressel and an attorney that would constitute at least one major NCAA violation on Jan. 13.

From the report:

However, on January 13, 2011, while reviewing information on an unrelated legal issue, the institution’s Office of Legal Affairs discovered an e-mail from Coach Tressel that was the subject matter of some of the activities pertaining to the University’s December 2010 NCAA self-report. The Office of Legal Affairs notified appropriate institutional officials and an additional inquiry began. One of the first actions was to conduct a search of Coach Tressel’s e-mail account. This search uncovered three e-mail strings between Coach Tressel and an attorney relating to this matter and to certain student-athletes. Two strings occurred in April 2010, and one in June 2010.

On January 16, 2011, three days after the initial e-mail was discovered, Coach Tressel was questioned by institutional officials about his correspondence with the attomey and he acknowledged receiving these e-mails. On January 21, 2011. the institution retained The Compliance Group (TCG) to serve as an outside consultant on this matter.

As you know, shortly thereafter, you were informed of this information and invited to participate in the institution‘s ongoing investigation. On February 8, the NCAA and institutional representatives conducted an interview of Coach Tressel. Additional joint interviews with the University and the NCAA were conducted with various individuals over the following two weeks resulting in this self-report.

What’s troubling about that timeline is that Ohio State knew about at least one major NCAA violation - and possibly more - involving Tressel as early at Jan. 13. Yet Tressel did not formally sit down with OSU and NCAA investigators until a month later.

Why is that important? Read more…