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?


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…

Video: OSU’s Tressel ‘tried to apologize all along‘?

When asking football coach Jim Tressel about his apology in Canton today to a group of Ohio State fans for his repeated lying to OSU school investigators last year, AKRON BEACON-JOURNAL columnist Marla Ridenour inferred to Tressel that Monday’s speech contained his first act of genuine contrition.

Gordon Gee Jim Tressel Gene Smith

Tressel’s response to Ridenour:

“I don’t know what you mean by that. I’ve tried to apologize all along.”

Today was Tressel’s first public appearance since Ohio State reported his NCAA rules violations to the governing body last week. In addition to a $250,000 fine and two-game suspension leveled against Tressel by the school, OSU noted in its report to the NCAA that it would take the following “punitive measures” against the coach:

Issue a public reprimand to Coach Tressel for his involvement with the activities in this report. Additionally, Coach Tressel will issue a public apology. 

That “public reprimand” - in addition to Tressel’s “apology” - fell to school president Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith at a press conference in Columbus last Tuesday, the same day the Ohio State report was released to the public.

To be fair, Gee and Smith were at least dead-on about one thing. Read more…

Photo: OSU Hid Logo Background Before Presser

Here’s a photo taken a few minutes before Ohio State’s press conference Tuesday to announce Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s suspension for lying to Ohio State officials investigating allegations of NCAA violations involving Buckeye football players.

Ohio State removed logo background before press conference

(Before .. After (inset))

The background was hastily hustled out of the area before Tressel, Ohio State President Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith took the podium.  Read more…