Ohio State coach Jim Tressel knew about his players’ involvement in exchanging team merchandise and autographs for tattoos back in April of 2010, email records posted on NBC4 in Columbus via Sports by Brooks show. Tressel was tipped off on April 2nd by an attorney who knew the tattoo parlor owner was under investigation by the government for alleged drug trafficking. Responding to that email, Tressel said “I will get on it ASAP.” A second email on April 16th detailed the extent of the Buckeyes merchandise found in the tattoo parlor, including conference championship rings, cleats, and jerseys. In response, Tressel wrote “I will keep pounding these kids hoping they grow up.”
Tressel claims the reason he never reported these emails to the school’s compliance officers is because he believed the information was confidential and that the federal trial superseded NCAA penalties. Say we buy that, what you can’t get past are the numerous occasions thereafter that Tressel was devious.
On September 13th, he signed the NCAA Certificate of Compliance form indicating he had reported any knowledge of possible violations. Then in December when he learned that the school received word from the Department of Justice regarding the potential violations, he did not report the emails or his knowledge of the situation. And on December 16th, he did not report the information he knew when asked by institutional officials, not admitting his knowledge until after the players were interviewed.
So not only were these guilty players somehow allowed to play in the January Sugar Bowl against Arkansas and factored heavily in the win, we’ve learned that their head coach covered up the crimes. Tressel has been fined $250,000 to pay for the investigation and will be suspended the first two games of next season.
The point is that no matter how you look at things, it’s impossible to view Tressel as anything other than guilty. It’s bad enough that the players sold their gear or signed autographs for tattoos, but it’s just as bad — if not worse — that their coach covered for them on numerous occasions. I can understand not reporting things back in April, but to deny everything to the university in December? That shows to me he was acting intentionally.
On the scale of NCAA violations, taking thousands of dollars or having your family living in a mansion is much worse to me, but I have lost a lot of respect for Jim Tressel. I thought he was the type of coach who did things the right way but clearly we have seen he is no worse than any other crooked coach in the country. And like I wrote on twitter, if he weren’t 9-1 lifetime against Michigan, he’d be out of a job. Good thing for him he can coach. It will take a lot more than this for The Ohio State University to fire him, that’s for certain.Google+