OSU Football Coach Tressel Admits Violations; Sanctioned

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Former Coach Jim Tressel paces the sidelines during an Ohio State football game.(Photo: WDPG share (Flickr))
Former Coach Jim Tressel paces the sidelines during an Ohio State football game.(Photo: WDPG share (Flickr))

Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel admitted to violating NCAA bylaws last night, and made a public apology. WOSU reports on why Tressel broke the rules, and the self-imposed sanctions handed down by the university.

“I’m sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down, and didn’t do things as well as I could possibly do,” OSU head football coach Jim Tressel said.

Tressel acknowledged he knew long before December that some of his players sold championship rings, jerseys and cleats in exchange for tattoos or money.

Tressel will be suspended from coaching or attending the first two games of the 2011 season against Akron and Toledo. He also will be fined $250,000.

“Obviously I’m disappointed that this happened at all. I take my responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously. And for the game of football. And obviously I planned to grow from this,” Tressel said. In December, OSU reported five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, would be suspended from five games in the upcoming season as a result of the memorabilia sales. And that another player has to sit out of one game.

Tressel said he began receiving emails about the players’ behavior in April of last year. The emails asked Tressel to keep the information confidential. The emails noted a federal drug trafficking investigation into tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife, the man to whom the players sold their memorabilia. One of the emails specifically asked Tressel to tell players to stay away from the tattoo parlor and not to phone Rife.

Tressel responded to the emails writing: “It is unbelievable!!” Thanks for your help. I will keep pounding these kids hoping they grow up.”

Tressel said he was more concerned about his players’ safety and not interfering with a federal investigation than violating NCAA rules.

“Admittedly I probably did not give quite as much thought to the potential NCAA part of things as I read it. My focus was on the well-being of the young people. Also in those emails, it was very, very emphatic that with the nature of a federal investigation that there be confidentiality,” the coach said.

OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith says the university did not learn of Tressel’s prior knowledge until January 13. Smith said the university notified the NCAA of the – in his words – major violation February 3. He said his goal was to let the public know of the investigation by the end of this week, but…

“There’s no question we had a leak. And we wanted to be as responsive as we could,” Smith said.

Tressel said he never considered resigning, and OSU President Gordon Gee said the coach’s job was never in jeopardy.

“No are you kidding. Let me just be very clear. I’m just as hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” Gee said.

The investigation into Tressel’s violations is on-going. And Smith said it’s possible the coach could face additional sanctions.

“There could be sanctions that the NCAA feel we need to levy, and we will work with them on those and go from there,” Smith said.

In additional to the fine and game suspensions, Tressel will be required to attend an NCAA rules seminar and all OSU coaching staff members will have semi-annual reviews of NCAA violations reporting protocol.

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