(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…
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:
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.
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:
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…
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
It was unclear Tuesday if Pryor had been granted driving privileges, but the Franklin County Clerk of Courts told NBC4 Wednesday that Pryor was not given driving privileges.
To make matters worse, two individuals appearing to be affiliated with Ohio State were spotted by WSYX cameras guarding Pryor as he got into his car in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center parking lot on the Ohio State campus.
Where is the Ohio State and Columbus Police Department?
Ohio State President Gordon Gee? Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith? Ohio State Compliance Director Doug Archie?
Do laws not matter in Columbus if you’re a Buckeye?
The following is an opinion piece by Ohio State President Gordon Gee published in the COLUMBUS DISPATCH on the state of intercollegiate athletics.
I like to win. I also like to sleep at night. But after 23 years leading universities, I find it increasingly difficult to do both.
This has been the most ignominious year in recent memory for college sports. We’ve seen coaches behaving badly, academic fraud, and graft. Clearly, the system is broken, and fixing it will require more than sideline cheering.
Many athletic departments exist as separate, almost semi-autonomous fiefdoms within universities and there is the feeling that the name on the football jersey is little more than a “franchise” for sports fans.
As Bill Bowen and Sarah Levin point out in their new book, Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values, even at the best colleges and universities in the country, student-athletes are increasingly isolated. They do not participate in the extracurricular activities that are so important for personal growth.
They miss out on opportunities to study abroad or have internships. They spend too much time in special athletic facilities that are off-limits to the rest of the student body. And their world can too often be defined by coaches’ insatiable demands for practice and workout sessions.
True, this is the cost of staying competitive in college sports, where tens of millions of dollars are at stake. But should it be?
Over the years I have gotten to know thousands of student-athletes. They are as different as any group of individuals could be — with different skills, talents and aspirations. What they have in common, though, is a sense that they missed out on an important part of the college experience by focusing only on sports.
They also lose out by being stripped of their responsibilities as citizens of the university when we say that “all will be forgiven” as long as their performance on the field is up to snuff.
This must change.
In recent years, there have been a number of well-meaning and forceful efforts to reform college athletics, but they have not gone far enough. It is time for all those who are concerned about the future of our enterprise to get serious about addressing the crisis of credibility we now face. College presidents, working together, should commit themselves to the following reforms:
* All students who participate in intercollegiate sports should be required to meet the requirements of a core curriculum. The “permanent jockocracy” has for too long made a mockery of academic standards when it comes to athletes. We need to end sham courses, manufactured majors, degree programs that would embarrass a mail-order diploma mill, and the relentless pressure on faculty members to ease student-athletes through their classes.
* Colleges should make a binding four-year commitment to students on athletic scholarships. One of the dirty secrets of intercollegiate athletics is that such scholarships are renewed year-to-year. A bad season? Injury? Poor relationship with a coach? Your scholarship can be yanked with very little notice. Rather than cynically offering the promise of academic enrichment, colleges should back up the promise so long as a student remains in good academic standing.
* The number of athletic scholarships a school can award should be tied to the graduation rates of its athletes in legitimate academic programs. If a school falls below a threshold graduation rate, it should be penalized by having to relinquish a certain number of scholarships for the next year’s entering class.
A version of this proposal is part of a reform package now snaking its way through the NCAA.
* Graduation rates should be tied to television and conference revenues. If money is the mother’s milk of college athletics, then access to it should be contingent on fulfilling the most basic mission of a university — educating students.
*Finally, college presidents and others need to take a good look at the system we have created for ourselves, in which the professional sports leagues have enjoyed a free feeder system that exploits young people and corrupts otherwise noble institutions.
We have maintained the fantasy for far too long that a big-time athletics program is for the students, the alumni and, at public universities, even for the legislators.
It is time for us to call it what it is has sadly become: a prep league for the pros, who have taken far more than they have given back. We should demand nothing less than a system in which student-athletes are an integral part of the academic institutions whose names and colors they so proudly wear on game day.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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?
What about this line in a Cicero email to Tressel:
“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?
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:
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?
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.
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…