Yesterday Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel addressed personal emails that showed he repeatedly ignored intimately-detailed warnings from a Columbus attorney that past and present Ohio State football players were giving their Buckeye football player gear and awards to an Ohio man in exchange for tattoo work.
(OSU AD Smith tried to stop Tressel’s response to Yahoo reporter’s question)
The emails also warned the current Ohio State football coach that the same man who two current Buckeye football players were associating with, Edward Rife, was under federal investigation for drug trafficking.
Despite the specific information from the Columbus attorney that Ohio State players were repeatedly breaking NCAA rules and possibly linked to a federal drug investigation, Tressel apparently did not report the troubling news to Ohio State officials or law enforcement.
Tressel withheld the information contained in the emails from NCAA officials throughout a December investigation resulting in multiple rules violations involving current Ohio State players and the same Edward Rife cited in attorney emails to the coach 10 months earlier.
At a press conference Tuesday, Tressel repeatedly said that he did not report the emails to anyone because the attorney who sent them requested confidentiality - and that the contents of the emails included claims of a federal investigation possibly involving current Ohio State football players.
Tressel said at the press conference Tuesday of that confidentiality:
“I needed to keep sight of the fact that confidentiality was requested by the attorney, so I followed that.”
The man who sent Tressel the emails was not involved in the federal investigation - which resulted in no charges being filed against Rife - nor did the emailer identify himself to Tressel as Rife’s attorney.
After his opening remarks to the media Tuesday, Tressel was asked by Yahoo Sports reporter Dan Wetzel:
“Jim, you talked about the confidentiality of the situation and upholding it. Did you forward any of the emails to anyone?“
Following Wetzel’s question, Tressel nodded his head in Wetzel’s direction up and down as to indicate yes. Though before Tressel could speak, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, who was standing next to Tressel, said, “We can’t get into that right now.”
Smith later cited the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into Tressel’s misconduct as why the coach was noted allowed to answer the question.
I have personally confirmed that Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated and ESPN has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to Ohio State to obtain Tressel’s email records. So long as Ohio State does not alter public records protected under state and federal law, we will soon indisputably know if Tressel forwarded the emails.
If he did, that would seem to contradict Tressel’s earlier claims at the Ohio State press conference that his silence was in response to the attorney emailer’s request and a federal drug investigation.