Ohio St: 326 Percent Overpayment “Not Obvious”

Today Ohio State released a statement detailing more NCAA violations involving the football program. In the NCAA-addressed report, OSU confirmed that 30-year Buckeye booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who last month was cited for paying Ohio State players at his 2011 Cleveland-based charity event, also “provided five (OSU) student-athletes wages in excess of hours worked.  While the student-athletes were provided an appropriate wage and performed the work asked of them, the then representative paid the five student-athletes in excess of the number of hours worked.

(DeVier Posey: 326 Percent Overpayment By Booster ‘Not Obvious’?)

As a result of the violations, DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Marcus Hall have been declared ineligble to play football for Ohio State. While the school has applied to the NCAA for their reinstatement, it’s unclear when the players will return.In the report, Ohio State Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Archie noted “the following mitigation” as it pertained to the NCAA violations by Posey, Herron and Hall:

It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid.  The student-athletes were not told their hourly wage.  According to the controller, no timecards were completed, as a supervisor verbally reported the hours worked to the controller, who wrote the check.  The check provided to the student-athletes did not include the number of hours worked nor the hourly wage.  As a result, while the student-athletes generally understood the number of hours they worked due to their presence at the job site, they did not know their hourly rate and would not have known if they were overpaid. 

Later in the report, Archie provided this summary of payments made from DiGeronimo - via his company Independence Excavating - to DeVier Posey:

Based on employment information provided by Independence as to the amount paid and the rate of pay, it was determined that DeVier was paid for 70 hours of work at a rate of $15.00 per hour. The NCAA Enforcement staff and institution concluded that DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

OSU’s accounting translates to Posey being overpaid by now-disassociated OSU booster DiGeronimo by 326 percent.

In the second-to-last paragraph of his report to the NCAA on behalf of Ohio State, Archie states:

While the institution acknowledges that the student-athletes were paid by Independence for work not performed, it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

So in less than two pages, Ohio State’s Associate Athletic Director for Compliance indicated to the NCAA:

1)  It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

2) DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

3) … it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

Not as obvious - at least as a 326 percent overpayment - was why DiGeronimo wasn’t disassociated by Ohio State until Sept. 20, 2011.

In the OSU report to the NCAA, Archie also attached a June 29, 2011, letter from DiGeronimo to the attorney of the five Ohio State players.

In that communique DiGeronimo detailed the hours the five Ohio State student-athletes allegedly worked for Independence Excavating - hours that were subseqently found to be fraudulent and in the case of DeVier Posey, wildly overstated.

But in the Sept. 20, 2011, dissociation letter from OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith to DiGeronimo, there was no mention of any NCAA rules impropriety involving summer jobs for Buckeye football players.

Why did it take Ohio State six weeks to disassociate booster after letter detailing bogus work hours by OSU football players?

So when exactly did Ohio State find out that DiGeronimo had - according to OSU and the NCAA - exaggerated the hours worked by Buckeye football players? Today’s OSU report to the NCAA doesn’t say - this is all we get:

The institution and Enforcement Staff determined the actual number of hours worked based upon cell telephone and bank records and the student-athletes’ testimony.    

If the NCAA and Ohio State had already zeroed in on the hours worked of those five players -  so much so that DiGeronimo sent a letter to the attorney of the players detailing hours worked of that particular quintet - why the six week delay by Ohio State to disassociate DiGeronimo?

And no announcment until today?

Brooks is on Twitter, Facebook and at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

Ohio St. Tattgate Scandal Played Out On Facebook

On Dec. 23, 2010, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith announced that multiple Buckeye football players, including Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas had been suspended for five games in 2011 for receiving extra benefits in the form of tattoos and cash from Columbus tattoo parlor owner and convicted drug dealer Edward Rife. A sixth player, Jordan Whiting, was suspended for one game for similar activity.

Jermil Martin was contacted by Edward Rife on Facebook

(Rife’s Facebook messages to tattgate Buckeye remain to this day)

During his remarks, Smith said of the situation:

“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.”

Thanks to the NCAA’s subsequent Notice of Allegations (NOA) sent to Smith and Ohio State on April 21, 2011, we now know that Smith’s “isolated” claim about the case was flatly untrue.


The NCAA reported in its April 21, 2011, NOA to Ohio State that an Ohio State football player, whose name was redacted by OSU officials despite his no longer being a student at the school, received the following extra benefits from Columbus tattoo parlor owner and convicted drug dealer Edward Rifebetween November 2008 and May 2010“:

1) Received $1,500 from Rife for a 2008 Big Ten championship ring
2) Received $250 from Rife for a 2008 gold pants charm for a victory over Michigan
3) Received $250 from Rife for a 2009 gold pants charm for a victory over Michigan
4) Received $150 from Rife for a game helmet from the 2009 Michigan game
5) Received $30 from Rife for a pair of game pants from the 2009 Michigan game
6) Received $250 from Rife for 2010 Rose Bowl watch
7) Received a $55 discount from Rife on two Fine Line Ink Tattoo Parlor tattoos
8) Received $100 from Rife for obtaining current Buckeye player autographs on two collectible Ohio State football helmets
9) Received a $2,420 discount from Rife towards the purchase of a 2003 Chevy Tahoe
10) Received a $800 loan from Rife for vehicle repairs

NCAA-estimated cash value of benefits received from Rife: $5,805

The unknown player? Read more…

OSU AD: ‘I never did anything incorrect or wrong’

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, who 10 months ago OSU President Gordon Gee called, the best athletic director in the country,” appeared Tuesday on SiriusXM’s College Football Playbook with Mike Leach & Jack Arute.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith on SiriusXM College Football Playbook

(March 8: Nothing wrong with former ND football player Smith’s blocking skills)

Here’s an excerpt from the SiriusXM interview with Smith:

Jack Arute: “There are some, specifically in the media, that are calling for mininally, at least your resignation as well over this Gene. .. I want to give you the opportunity to state whether that was ever considered or why you don’t think it’s applicable. You’ve got the floor sir.”

Gene Smith: “That’s definitely a thought that some people would have in this situation and I respect that. But from a performance point of view, I‘ve done nothing wrong. .. We basically had a small group make individual decisions that they are ultimately are paying a significant price for and there’s casualties as a result of their decisions. .. But I wake up every day knowing that I did the right thing relative to my job every single day.”


Jack Arute: “Gene did you ever at least consider it [resigning]. Did you look at it and say, ‘this happened on my watch’ .. did you have to go through a process to think about ‘whether I should stay or go?’”
Read more…

Tressel Ouster: Ohio St. Changes Story To NCAA

On June 12, 2011, Ohio State President Gordon Gee described the exact nature of Jim Tressel’s May 30 departure from the school to the COLUMBUS DISPATCH:

Ohio State President Gordon Gee: Jim Tressel Was Not Forced To Resign

Tressel was not told he would be fired if he didn’t quit, Gee said.

“He was not given an ultimatum.”

Gee said Tressel originally was supposed to meet with Smith about the growing scandal after Memorial Day, but mounting public pressure, including the knowledge that a number of media outlets were working on stories about other potential violations, pushed up the timing.

On May 30, 2011, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith concurred with Gee’s version of Tressel’s OSU ouster:

“Jim Tressel decided to resign.”

In the school’s July 7, 2011, response to the NCAA’s April 25, 2011, Notice of Allegation (NOA), on four different occasions Ohio State reported to the intercollegiate governing body that Tressel had not voluntarily resigned.

In its “introductory statement“, Ohio State reported on the opening page of its response to the NCAA:

As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel. 

On pages I-9 and 4-2 of its response, Ohio State reported the following “punitive action” to the NCAA:

Sought and accepted the resignation of Tressel on May 30, 2011.

On page I-10 of its response to the NCAA’s April NOA in a section titled, “Reasons These Actions Are Appropriate”, Ohio State gave its official justifiction for the penalties it had previously assessed on itself:

Regarding Tressel’s penalties, the institution’s analysis was that Tressel’s penalties should reflect the seriousness of the position in which he placed both himself and the University. One of his penalties was suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season, which was the same as the student-athletes’ penalties.

The University also intended to prohibit all of his off-campus recruiting activities for one year, which reflected the seriousness of Tressel’s failure to report. The University eventually determined that it was in the best interest of the University and Tressel for Tressel to resign, and he agreed to do so.

Of that justification:

1) On March 8, Ohio State initially announced a two-game suspension for Tressel. Of the exact number of games Tressel was suspended, OSU AD Smith said at the time:

“[The number of games was] kind of a sweet spot based upon this particular case. .. We just felt like the combination of a two-game suspension and the financial fine was kind of in line with cases that we were familiar with.”

Ohio State has since announced that Tressel will not have to pay the $250,000 “fine” Smith referred to on March 8.

On July 8, the Columbus Dispatch reported of Tressel’s exit settlement with Ohio State:

Instead, the university will pay him $52,250 - the equivalent of the salary and benefits he would have earned through the end of June 30th.

OSU’s decision to drop the fine goes against an assertion by Gee last month that Tressel would be required to pay no matter what the other terms of his departure were.

We’ve levied a $250,000 fine against the coach, and he will pay that,” Gee told The Dispatch on June 11th.

Gee could not be reached this afternoon

Tressel also will collect his unpaid sick and vacation time up to 250 hours and will be eligible for health-insurance coverage for himself and his family under the plan available to all state retirees, according to the settlement.

2) OSU never publicly indicated Tressel would be suspended for “all of his off-campus recruiting activities for one year.” Read more…

Delany’s Failure To Monitor Exposes OSU Coverup

It has taken nothing short of on-the-record, documented evidence of NCAA violations perpetrated by the Ohio State football program to produce what is rapidly becoming one of the biggest scandals in college sports history.


If not for a certified United States Department of Justice communique to Ohio State officials documenting the sale and transfer of memorabilia to Edward Rife for cash and tattoos by Ohio State football players and archived email correspondence involving a coverup of the same matter by former OSU football coach Jim Tressel, the school’s football program would not be facing what may soon be crippling NCAA penalties.

And now, thanks to on-the-record, documented evidence involving public statements made by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany on two different occasions the past week that directly contradicted a formal and crucial claim in the March 8 self-report by Ohio State to the NCAA - and public statements on March 8 to the same effect by OSU Director of Athletics Gene Smith - along with an email message from an Ohio State administration official to CBSSports.com reporter Bryan Fischer on June 8, it appears we have significant reason to believe that an already ugly situation is about to get worse.

In the past 48 hours, through the discovery of the aforementioned evidence, I’ve detected what appears to be a concerted effort by Ohio State officials to conceal how the school first discovered the emails between Tressel and Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero. That would include the deliberate misrepresentation by Ohio State officials of the facts of the case  contained in the official March 8 Ohio State self-report to the NCAA.

On March 8, this was Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith’s exact description of the school’s discovery of the incriminating Tressel emails.

We discovered, through another process, through gathering information on another matter, that there were some emails that Coach Tressel had that revealed that he had some prior knowledge regarding the matter with our student athletes.”

Ohio State’s March 8 self-report to the NCAA contained this official account of how the Tressel emails were found by the school:

Ohio State self-report to NCAA official version of how Tressel emails were discovered

“However, on Jan. 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 self-report.”

How Ohio State first found out about the Tressel emails is crucial to the school’s avoidance of the dreaded ‘Failure to Monitor‘ major NCAA violation. A major violation that Ohio State was not charged with in the NCAA’s April 25 Notice of Allegations to the school regarding the Tressel matter.

Of that distinction, veteran attorney Michael L. Buckner, who has represented several schools during the NCAA enforcement process, noted to CBSSports.com reporter Fischer on June 9:

“The NCAA will definitely want to find out how the institution found out about the allegation. There could be a possible failure to monitor allegation. If they found out about it because someone else sent in an open records request, then that means [Ohio State] found out about violations from somebody else external to the institution triggering that process.”

In a piece written by ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg on June 9, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany directly contradicted Ohio State’s official version to the NCAA of how the school first discovered the Tressel emails in question:

Jim Delany on how Ohio State discovered Jim Tressel emails

“I know the sequence was they found out about it after the [Sugar Bowl], I think it was mid-January. They found out about it through a [Freedom of Information Act] request.”

After talking to Jim Delany about the same subject, Bill Rabinowitz of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported on June 6:

Jim Delany to Columbus Dispatch on how Ohio State discovered Jim Tressel's emails

Delany said he was surprised and disappointed by the revelation, which he learned of at the same time as Ohio State and the NCAA through a Freedom of Information Act query.

In addition to the contention by Ohio State in its self-report to the NCAA on March 8 that it - not the media - first discovered the Tressel emails and OSU AD Gene Smith’s public comments confirming that as fact the same day, in its “Conclusion” to the NCAA in its March 8 self-report to the same governing body regarding the Tressel emails, Ohio State reiterated that it had “self-detected” the former coach’s email-based coverup:

Ohio State claimed in its report that it self-detected Tressel emails

“This issue was self-detected by the institution and the University’s ‘Investigating Possible Violations’ policy was adhered to in the conduct of a thorough and expeditious investigation.”

CBSSports.com reporter Bryan Fischer was first to spot the repeated, stark discrepancy between the multiple statements made by Big Ten Commissioner Delany and Ohio State officials. Fischer contacted Ohio State Director of Media Relations Jim Lynch on June 8 to ask him to confirm the school’s official version of how it discovered Tressel’s emails. In a post published to CBSSports.com on June 9, Lynch did just that:

Jim Lynch of Ohio State confirmed school's official version of Tressel email discovery on June 9

Ohio State spokesperson Jim Lynch, when asked how the school discovered the emails, said that the university discovered the emails during an unrelated legal matter.

Lynch’s confirmation further contradicts Delany’s multiple statements about how Ohio State found out about Tressel’s emails.

In that same June 9 post, Fischer reported:

CBSSports.com obtained all Freedom of Information Act inquiries directed to the university. In documents released by a school spokesman, the earliest request in 2011 came from Bloomberg News requesting a copy of the school’s NCAA Revenue and Expenses Report on Jan. 24, a full 11 days after the school reported they became aware of the emails. Yahoo! Sports, which broke the news that Tressel had prior knowledge of NCAA violations involving Buckeyes players, submitted its first open records request to the school on Feb. 28.

If Ohio State’s version of events is correct, why did Delany tell the Columbus Dispatch on June 6 that,he learned of [Tressel emails] at the same time as Ohio State [Jan. 13] and the NCAA through a Freedom of Information Act query?

More specifically, if there were no open records requests to Ohio State before January 24, why did Delany twice claim that the school only found out after an external open records request that would have had to have come at least 11 days earlier - since Ohio State reported on March 8 to the NCAA that it first discovered the Tressel emails on January 13.

With a radical difference between versions of the same event by Big Ten commissioner Delany and Ohio State officials, what’s the odds that this is all one big misunderstanding?

Thanks to a followup email from Ohio State Spokesman Jim Lynch to Fischer on June 8, it turns out that there is indeed a distinct possibility that Delany, a former NCAA enforcement investigator himself, is actually accurate in his assessment of how OSU first found out about the Tressel emails.

On June 11 I contacted Fischer to ask him if he would forward me the email exchange he had with Lynch in which the OSU spokesman confirmed he had released all of the January open records requests sent to Ohio State.

When Fischer forwarded me that exchange I learned, much to my amazement, that Lynch never did confirm that the school had actually released all of the January open records requests received by Ohio State.

It was a fateful June 8 email message from Lynch to Fischer that explained why Delany continues to claim that Ohio State was tipped off by the media and did not, as OSU AD Smith and the school’s self-report to the NCAA claimed on March 8, “self-detect” the Tressel emails.

When asked by Fischer via email to confirm that Ohio State had released all of its open record requests for the month of January, 2011, Lynch replied:

Ohio State admits it may have not released all FOIA requests in the month of January

I can’t guarantee that this catches all of them, as a few head directly to individuals within the Athletics Department and I am unable to log them.

All of the emails sent to employees of Ohio State are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) open record requests. Including those of OSU AD Smith, OSU Compliance Director Doug Archie and President E. Gordon Gee.

Lynch’s statement to Fischer on why he couldn’t “guarantee that this catches all of them” is nothing short of, well, stunning.

If Lynch, who has been charged with handling the public dissemination of Ohio State’s open records requests since the Tressel scandal broke in early March, doesn’t know if all of the open records requests to OSU for the month of January are accounted for, how can Ohio State possibly announce publicly that it “self-detected” the Tressel emails?

Let alone stake the future of the football program on the same claim in its formal defense to the NCAA?

So now we know why Delany said what he said. Twice.

Just the day before Lynch sent that explosive note to Fischer claiming ignorance, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported that Lynch had released logs of thousands of phone calls and text messages made by “athletic director Gene Smith between April 2010 and March 2011.” But of those communications, the Dispatch also noted, “The university redacted nearly 20 percent of Smith’s 11,628 phone calls and texts between April 2010 and March 2011.

Who informed the media on June 7 why 2,326 calls by Smith were hidden from the media?

The same Jim Lynch who a day later told Fischer in an email that he wasn’t sure if he had been able to provide the reporter all of the open records requests to Ohio State University from January, 2011.

The June 7 Columbus Dispatch report also included Lynch’s argument for not releasing literally thousands of Smith’s phone and text records:

The requested records (e.g., personal landline and cell phone numbers) do not constitute records … as they do not serve to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the university,” spokesman Jim Lynch wrote in a statement.

Lynch admitting the possibility to Fischer that not all of the January open records requests to Ohio State were indeed released to the media follows up his admission on April 25, 2011, to the COLUMBUS DISPATCH that he “inadvertently omitted” the emails between Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor “mentor” Ted Sarniak in Ohio State’s March 8 press release documenting the school’s self-report to the NCAA.

Of that “inadvertent” omission, 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.

But Tressel’s earlier-confirmed handling of the emails contradicts Lynch’s statement. And it isn’t even close.

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.

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

Jim Tressel Email Complete String

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

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

Not to mention that in the first email from attorney Cicero to Tressel, on April 2, 2010, the lawyer did not request confidentiality. (He did not do so until an April 16 email to Tressel.)

So the material fact that Tressel forwarded the very first email he received to Terrelle Pryor’s mentor wasn’t known by the media during the March 8 press conference because Lynch “inadvertently omitted” them from the media release because, as Lynch claimed to the Dispatch on April 25, “these emails do not raise any new matters.”

The same press conference was highlighted by the now-infamous moment in which OSU AD Gene Smith cut off a question to Tressel by Yahoo.com’s Dan Wetzel after the reporter asked the coach if he had “forwarded any of the emails” that he had received from the then-unnamed attorney.

But if Lynch’s omission of the forwarded Tressel emails to Sarniak was, as Lynch claimed to the Dispatch on April 25, “inadvertent” and did “not raise any new mattersand should have been included in Lynch’s Ohio State media release at the March 8 press conference, why did Smith prevent the coach from answering Wetzel’s question about a forwarded email from Tressel?

Might Smith’s actions have had something to do with Tressel’s earlier confidentiality defense at the press conference? A confidentiality defense also utilized in Ohio State’s self-report to the NCAA the same day?

Is it unreasonable to think that Tressel would not have attempted such a defense in front of reporters had it been known to the public and media at that time that he had forwarded Cicero’s first, confidentiality-free email to Terrelle Pryor mentor Ted Sarniak?

OSU Spokesman Lynch also, somehow, claimed to the Dispatch on April 25 that the NCAA, unlike the media, did receive Tressel’s complete email correspondence as part of its March 8 self-report. Though that same report from OSU noted to the same NCAA, “he (Tressel) was protecting the confidentiality of the attorney (which the attorney requested) and of the federal criminal investigation.”

Why would Ohio State allow Tressel to make such a defense in its self-report if it knew the NCAA had clear evidence that Tressel had not kept his email exchange with Cicero confidential from the very first email?!

Lynch’s “inadvertent” omission of the complete email correspendence between Tressel, Cicero and Sarniak followed by Ohio State’s confidentiality defense to the NCAA in its self-report and OSU AD Smith not allowing Tressel to answer Wetzel’s question about forwarding emails he received from Cicero - and Lynch’s clearly bogus claim that the emails he left out of the March 8 press release to the media did “not raise any new matters” make it almost impossible to believe that Ohio State officials did not deliberately misrepresent the facts of the case contained in the official March 8 Ohio State self-report to the NCAA and to the media the same day.

Then there’s last week, which saw Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany twice confirm with public statements that Ohio State discovered Tressel’s emails only because of an open records request from the media, which contradicted the school’s version of how it found the emails. A contradiction affirmed by Lynch in an email message to CBSSports.com reporter Bryan Fischer on June 8.

And this subsequent admission by Lynch to Fischer about the January open records requests referenced by Delany in relation to the discovery of Tressel’s emails:

 I can’t guarantee that this catches all of them, as a few head directly to individuals within the Athletics Department and I am unable to log them.

That last piece of previously-unknown, on-the-record, documented evidence leads me to now believe that we’re officially past the point of coincidence and/or any manner of misunderstanding.  (See Delany’s possible future retraction.)

The only question that now remains is if those involved in Ohio State’s shameful coverup of the facts and deceptive presentation of its case to the NCAA and public will be held to the same accountability afforded the recently-ousted Tressel.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Docs: OSU President Knew Of Faulty Compliance

One month before a United States Department of Justice letter to Ohio State uncovered a massive pattern of NCAA rule violations within the school’s football program, official Ohio State internal audit documents show Ohio State President Gordon Gee and OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith knew that the Ohio State compliance department - led by former NCAA enforcement official Doug Archie - had failed to properly monitor dozens of OSU student-athletes for potential violations of NCAA rules.


In a November 1, 2010, report to Gee and Smith, a four-person internal audit of Archie’s Ohio State compliance department reported the following to President Gee and AD Smith:

Ohio State Internal Audit Of NCAA Rules Compliance November 2010

During our audit, we analyzed Student Athlete Vehicle Registration information for 152 student athletes, and we physically observed vehicles driven by football players upon arrival at spring practice. We noted the following issues:

  • 19 student athletes purchased parking permits from University Transportation and Parking for vehicles they had not registered with the Department of Athletics.
  • 22 student athletes received parking citations from University Transportation and Parking for vehicles they had not registered with the Department of Athletics.
  • 3 football players were observed driving vehicles they had not registered with the Department of Athletics.

Recommendation:

We recommend that the Department of Athletics investigate the aforementioned discrepancies and confirm that no NCAA regulations were violated. The Department of Athletics should increase monitoring activities by observing vehicles driven by student athletes and by working with University Transportation and Parking to periodically review parking permit registrations and issued citations to assure proper registration of vehicles.

Six months later the acquisition, registration and operation of vehicles by dozens of Ohio State football players is now under investigation by the NCAA and subject to intense media scrutiny. In the past week, Ohio State football star Terrelle Pryor has been seen driving a vehicle on campus and at the OSU football facility despite his license being suspended.

On Jan. 2, 2011, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported:

Three times in the past three years, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was stopped for traffic violations while driving cars that were owned by a car salesman or a Columbus used-car lot where the salesman worked, according to traffic citations obtained by The Dispatch.

Ohio State is aware of two of those infractions, and an investigation determined nothing improper had occurred, said Doug Archie, associate athletic director for compliance. He was unaware of an incident that occurred in October 2008 and said yesterday that he would investigate it.

On May 7, 2011, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported:

Ohio State University’s chief enforcer of NCAA rules [Doug Archie] said yesterday that he will investigate used-car purchases made by dozens of OSU athletes at two Columbus car dealers to see if any sale violated collegiate rules.

The investigation was initiated after The Dispatch found in public records that at least eight Ohio State athletes and 11 athletes’ relatives bought used cars from Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct during the past five years. The investigation will involve outside experts and examine at least 50 sales, focusing on whether the athletes received improper benefits.

The common thread in those two dozen transactions was the salesman: Aaron Kniffin, who has worked at both dealerships.

“I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred,” he [Archie] said.

More:

Kniffin told The Dispatch that he has sold cars to at least four dozen OSU athletes and their relatives, that the OSU compliance staff directed them to him, and that university officials reviewed all documents before sales were final.

Archie said that he has spoken to Kniffin only once, never reviews sales documents and has not directed players to any dealerships.

But on May 27, 2011, Matt Hayes of THE SPORTING NEWS reported:

Doug Archie has called me well over 50 times,” Kniffin said. “This year alone, I’ve talked to him 25-30 times. You can print out your Verizon (phone) bills; his numbers are right there calling me.”

When asked why Archie, who did not immediately respond to voice mail messages, said he only spoke to Kniffin once and denied that the deals were approved by OSU compliance, Kniffin said, “That’s something you’ll have to ask him. I’ve got records of it.

Three days later, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported that apparently the NCAA wasn’t so sure about Archie’s repeated assurances that no NCAA violations had occurred during vehicle purchase and loan transactions involving Pryor:

The NCAA and the Ohio State University’s compliance office are conducting an independent investigation of Terrelle Pryor amid allegations that the star quarterback may have received cars and other extra benefits, sources told The Dispatch today.

Pryor has been questioned by OSU compliance officials in the past, but sources said this is the most significant inquiry to date. He already has been interviewed at least once by investigators within the past few weeks, sources said. 

The Ohio State internal audit of the school’s NCAA rules compliance led by Archie also examined OSU’s practice of providing apparel, equipment and awards to student-athletes. From the report:

Ohio State Internal Audit Of NCAA Rules Compliance November 2010

The Department of Athletics has purchased and implemented an inventory system to manage and monitor the issuance of equipment and apparel to student athletes. Although the use of this system has strengthened the Department of Athletics’ management of inventory and helps to reasonably assure compliance with NCAA regulations, we did identify the following opportunities to more effectively and consistently utilize the system and manage inventory:

Consistency – The process for managing inventory is not consistent among the different sports. Inventory management is left to the discretion of the individual sports managers.

  • Documentation – Some sports do not document the use of all equipment and apparel.
  • System Utilization – Some sports do not utilize all of the features of the inventory system.
  • System Deletions – Individual sports managers have the ability to delete inventory items, for which they are responsible, from the inventory system without any form of independent review or mitigating control.
  • Participation Awards – Participation awards (e.g., letter jackets, rings, etc.) are the responsibility of the Equipment Room but currently are not inventoried.

Recommendation:

We recommend that the Department of Athletics strengthen inventory management procedures and controls to ensure consistency among all sports, accountability for all inventory items, and utilization of the inventory system to its fullest capability.

Thanks to these Ohio State internal audit documents, it has now been confirmed that OSU President Gee and Athletic Director Smith already knew of the failure by Ohio State compliance to inventory and track the aforementioned “participation awards” and “equipment and apparel”  which likely contributed to Buckeye football players selling and trading those same items - along with football tickets - for cash, tattoos, cars and other extra benefits. (As documented in the DOJ letter to the school on December 7, 2010.) (Or as the NCAA likes to put it in its infraction reports to schools, “should have known.”)

The eventual discovery of those activities by Federal authorities in April, 2010, eventually led to five Ohio State football players, including Pryor, to be suspended for five games during the 2011 season and contributed the resignation of coach Jim Tressel.

Despite in recent months Ohio State twice reporting NCAA violations involving the school’s football program, and their prior knowledge of the lack of compliance by Ohio State student-athletes as detailed by their own internal audit, President Gee and Athletic Director Smith have continued to publicly laud the OSU compliance department.

Ohio State Internal Audit Of NCAA Rules Compliance November 2010

On March 8, Gee said of the Ohio State NCAA rules compliance department:

“I want to thank our folks in athletics who have done a tremendous job in dealing with some serious issues and have done it precisely the way I would expect.

I want to confirm to each and every one of you that our university has followed every protocol in every way as expeditiously and forthrightly as we should and as I would expect .. ”

” ..  I want to be very clear about that in no way does this university shed its responsibility in this effort and that it has followed its protocol.”

It was at the same press conference that, when asked if he was considering firing Jim Tressel, Gee uttered the now infamous words:

“No. Are you kidding? Let me just be very clear, I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”

Two days later, on March 10, Gee backtracked from the latter gaffe but reiterated his support for Ohio State compliance to WBNS-TV in Columbus:

“We would not be so confident in what we’ve done (in NCAA rules compliance) if there was a smoking gun. If there was another shoe to drop, absolutely not.

48 hours ago Ohio State President Gordon Gee said of the school’s compliance department:

We legitimately have the best compliance system in the country.

He also reiterated that Athletic Director Gene Smith’s employment status was not subject to change and that further resignations of OSU employees were not in the offing.

Gee’s most recent comments in full support of his athletic administration came three days after the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

A resignation that Gee has confirmed he supported.

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Gee: OSU Still Has ‘Best Compliance’ In NCAA!?!

Ohio State President Gordon Gee spoke to the media in Columbus yesterday about what has become the flagging fortunes of the once-proud OSU football program. Though an eternally glib Gee seemed, once again, utterly oblivious to the fact that the school’s most prominent franchise - just across campus from him at the time of his unaffected remarks - may soon be rendered ash by the NCAA.


At least if we are to, in fact, believe what was coming out of his mouth.

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Spielman On Ohio St. AD’s Fate: “I’d Be Nervous”

48 hours after former Ohio State football coach John Cooper hinted that OSU athletic department officials may have been aware of the vast scale of NCAA violations engulfing the OSU football program during Jim Tressel’s now-disconnected tenure, Buckeye football legend Chris Spielman during two radio appearances lamented the same apparent lack of oversight of the school’s football program by athletic director Gene Smith - and an Ohio State compliance department led by former NCAA enforcement employee Doug Archie.


After noting on WBNS-FM Tuesday the myriad new NCAA and alleged criminal misdeeds emanating from his beloved Buckeye football, Spielman, who called for Tressel to resign weeks ago, indicated today during an appearance on WQXI-AM in Atlanta that Ohio State AD Gene Smith might soon facing the same fate. (”If I was Gene I’d be nervous.“)

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Cooper: ‘They Act Like They Don’t Know About It’

A few hours after Jim Tressel resigned as Ohio State football coach on Monday, Tressel’s predecessor at the school appeared on a local Columbus television station to offer his thoughts - and pointed criticism - about the cratering state of a once-proud program.


John Cooper, who ran a major NCAA violation-free Ohio State football program from 1988-2000 and was succeeded by Tressel in 2001, did not absolve his successor from blame during his guest spot on WBNS-TV. But the former Buckeye coach, who still makes his home in Columbus, aimed most of his criticism for the school’s NCAA woes at the Ohio State compliance department.

After calmly reiterating Tressel’s grievous deeds, Cooper became heated when he unloaded on those charged to police the OSU program for NCAA rules violations: Read more…

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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