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.”

3) Gee’s June 12 public comments to the Columbus Dispatch on the exact nature of Tressel’s exit from the school contradicted Ohio State’s assertion to the NCAA in its July 7 response that, The University eventually determined that it was in the best interest of the University and Tressel for Tressel to resign

Additionally, the first line of the Ohio State July 7 response to the NCAA contradicts two statements recently made by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany about how the school first discovered emails from Jim Tressel that eventually led the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

The opening line of the Ohio State response to the NCAA’s NOA on July 7:

This issue was self-detected and self-reported by The Ohio State University (University).

ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg reported on June 9, 2011, that Big Ten Commissioner Delany directly contradicted Ohio State’s official version to the NCAA of how the school first discovered the Tressel emails:

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.”

Bill Rabinowitz of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported of a conversation about the same topic with Delany 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 July 7 response to the NCAA that it - not the media - first discovered the Tressel emails and OSU AD Gene Smith’s public comments confirming that as fact on March 8, 2011, in its “Conclusion” to the NCAA in its March 8 self-report to the NCAA regarding the Tressel emails, Ohio State claimed to the NCAA from the beginning that it “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.”

The start contrast between Ohio State and Delany on how the school discovered the emails led CBSSports.com reporter Bryan Fischer to contact 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 confirmed OSU’s official version of how the Tressel emails were first found by the school:

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 contradicted 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

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 addressed the complete release of January open records requests sent to Ohio State.

From that email exchange OSU spokesman Lynch confirmed to Fischer that he wasn’t sure that the school had actually released all of the January open records requests received by Ohio State. 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.

In other words, Delany may be right in his repeated claims that Ohio State first discovered the Tressel emails thanks to a media open records request.

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, President E. Gordon Gee and all other “individuals within the [Ohio State] Athletics Department.

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