Monday, April 25, 2011

"Potential Major Violations" puts Tressel under fire

"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."
Fred Squillante - Columbus Dispatch
That is from the NCAA "notice of allegations."  And that, my friends,  is a smackdown of the highest order, parsed and tweaked by lawyers, for sure, but still communicating fully the NCAA's disgust and contempt for Coach Tressel.

Based on that notice and the NCAA's letter to The Ohio State University and  President Gee at The Ohio State University, this is not a good day for the university.  Especially the ominous use of the phrase "potential major violations" throughout.  The Columbus Dispatch analyzed the phone and email records they could get, and some of it is VERY damning.  Tressel reached out to several people, including an FBI agent father of an ex-player, but never to his very own compliance department.  And I'll bet this tidbit comes up later:  hours after Tressel was told about the tattoo parlor, he calls Ted Sarniak, the "businessman" from Terrell Pryor's hometown, has a very short conversation on his office phone, and two minutes later Sarniak calls Tressel back--but not back to Tressel's office phone, this time to his cell phone and they talk for 15 minutes.  To me this screams of someone who knew they were doing something wrong.  We'll see how Ohio State explains it.

But as Adam Rittenberg says in his analysis, the language in the finding and letter itself is telling--and encouraging.

The NCAA's notice doesn't include serious charges like "failure to monitor" or "loss of institutional control" that can bring the most damaging penalties for a school. This is definitely setting up for Ohio State to vacate games from the 2010 season in which the ineligible players participated, but I don't know how much further the punishment will go if nothing else surfaces. Probation is very likely and perhaps scholarship losses, but is a postseason ban warranted? 
Let's hope not.  But I'm sure that Coach Tressel is hanging from a thread right now, and the idiotic way President Gee stuck up for him in the earlier press conference has put the university in a tricky position.  Can you fire Jim Tressel, after supporting him so strongly?  Or do you have to absolutely fire him, based on the obvious dereliction of duty (at best) that has come out?

Unfortunately, the answer may be "both."  And so there is much anguish in Ohio today.

Great analysis from the Dispatch here and here.