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.
(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?
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…