Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Dark Cloud In Columbus

I don't think it's a stretch to consider today one of the worst days in Ohio State athletics history. Let's do a quick summary of the facts at hand. Ohio State head football coach, Jim Tressel, has admitted to hiding knowledge of major infractions (Read about them here) from the NCAA. Tressel found out about the infractions on April 2, 2010 and never relayed his knowledge to the NCAA. It wasn't until this week (Eleven months later) that the allegations surfaced due to a leak somewhere in the OSU athletic department. If not for that leak, it's unlikely anyone would have ever known that Tressel was aware of what his players were doing.

So, Tressel is guilty of intentionally hiding his players' infractions in order for them to be able to participate in the 2010 season. Anyone think he would have done that if the guilty players weren't among his most talented? You have to imagine that the NCAA interviewed Tressel during their investigation of the memorabilia sales and free tattoos, and that means that he lied to the NCAA about a major infraction. To say that Tressel is in trouble might be an understatement. To sum it up, he lied to NCAA investigators about a major infraction, he tried to hide the infractions so that his players could stay eligible, and he worked behind the scenes to obstruct parts of a drug trafficking investigation (Evident in the emails below). Bruce Pearl just got one-upped in a major way. Oh, and by the way, Ohio State's sanctions of Tressel? $250,000 fine and a suspension that keeps him out of the Akron and Toledo games. Way to throw the book at him.

The press conference held by the OSU athletic department may have been one of the worst press conferences in history. The athletic director began the circus by saying:
‎"We acted on this quickly, unlike other programs across the country who take forever to respond."
Apparently, he thought it would be a good idea to throw stones at other programs when his own coach sat on the story for an entire season so his players would remain eligible. It took eleven months for Tressel's knowledge to come out, and that's somehow acting quickly?

Jim Tressel's excuses took the cake, though.

First, he claimed that he thought that the emails were confidential so he couldn't tell anyone. Yet, he told/warned his players but hid the information from the rest of athletic department and the NCAA. The original email also never mentioned confidentiality, and the first mention of confidentiality (Which was in the second email) came two weeks after the original email. Even if his confidentiality claim is to be believed, he still had a two week window (Between original receipt of the information and the first confidentiality request) in which he should have reported the infractions.

Next, his reason for not disclosing the infractions was that he didn't know who he should tell. Huh? All athletic departments have a compliance office for a reason. That's a terrible excuse.

Lastly, he said that he kept the players eligible because he didn't want to interfere with the ongoing drug investigation. So basically, Tressel knew his players had committed major NCAA infractions AND were under investigation for drug-trafficking and he still let them play. Wow.

I can guarantee that the NCAA will not look kindly on Tressel's actions so I'm very interested to see what they decide is appropriate punishment.

The best analysis of the whole ordeal has to be from Tennessee sports reporter, Clay Travis. View his Twitter account here.

Here are the emails themselves courtesy of Sports By Brooks. I will update more as the situation gets sorted out, but these emails are must read material.

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