|Ohio State football
coach Jim Tressel, left, sits next to E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University president, during a news
conference Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State suspended Tressel for two games and
fined him $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about information he
received involving two players and questionable activities involving Buckeye memorabilia. Tressel also
will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State suspended football coach Jim Tressel for two games and fined him
$250,000 on Tuesday for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the
school about information he received involving two players and
questionable activities involving the sale of memorabilia.
also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology.
The NCAA is investigating and could reject the self-imposed penalties
and impose additional sanctions.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he never seriously considered
firing Tressel for violating his contract, which specifies that he must
immediately report any — the word is underlined in the contract —
information which pertains to violations of NCAA, Big Ten or Ohio State bylaws and rules.
"Wherever we end
up, Jim Tressel is our football coach," Smith said. "He is our coach,
and we trust him implicitly."
Last December, the NCAA suspended
quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates for the first five games
on the 2011 season for selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies
to a local tattoo parlor owner. The suspensions came just 16 days after
the U.S. attorney told the school of a federal investigation that
The school did not learn until January, however,
that Tressel had been tipped off to the federal investigation back in
"Obviously I’m disappointed that this happened at all,"
Tressel said. "I take my responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously and for
the game of
football. I plan to grow from this. I’m sincerely saddened by the fact
that I let some people down and didn’t do things as well as I possibly
Yahoo! Sports first reported Tressel’s prior
knowledge of the possible improper benefits on Monday.
said he allowed the two players cited in the e-mail to play the entire
2010 season because he did not want to "interfere with a federal
investigation" and worried that sitting eligible players would raise a
"whole new set of questions."
Tressel received an e-mail on April
2, 2010. A person Tressel identified only as "a lawyer," mentioned that Ohio State players had
been implicated in activities
with Eddie Rife, a local tattoo-parlor owner. The e-mail, according to
Tressel, said players were selling signed Buckeyes memorabilia and
giving it to Rife in exchange for money and tattoos. The e-mail said
Rife had a criminal record and had witnessed one of his friends being
murdered in a parking lot.
The Buckeyes coach said he kept quiet
out fear for the safety of the two players connected to the federal,
criminal drug-trafficking case. That investigation prompted an Ohio State and NCAA investigation
selling memorabilia and getting discounted tattoos.
"I have had a
player murdered. I’ve had a player incarcerated. I’ve had a player get
taken into the drug culture and lose his opportunity for a productive
life," an emotional Tressel said, tears welling in his eyes, at a news
conference on Tuesday night. "It was obviously tremendously concerning.
Quite honestly, I was scared."
Tressel met with Ohio State and NCAA officials in December when the U.S. Attorney’s office
disclosed that Pryor, top receiver DeVier Posey, leading rusher Dan
"Boom" Herron, offensive lineman Mike Adams and backup defensive lineman
Solomon Thomas had provided the memorabilia.
Despite their 2011
five-game suspensions, those five were permitted to play in the Sugar
Bowl. With all playing well — Thomas even had the game-saving
interception in the final minutes — the Buckeyes beat Arkansas 31-26 in
Shortly after the team returned from the game, the
university began reviewing its information on an unrelated legal issue,
Smith said Tuesday, and Tressel admitted he had not told everything he
knew about his players and their relationship with the tattoo parlor and
Smith was forced to return to campus Tuesday, skipping
meetings with television network officials in New York about this
year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, to address the NCAA violations.
Smith is the chairman of the NCAA’s Division I men’s basketball
committee which selects, seeds and brackets the teams.
106-22 in his 10 years as coach of the Buckeyes, with a national
championship in 2002.
The Buckeyes open next season with games
against Akron and Toledo, likely playing those without their coach and
Ohio State president
Gordon Gee said he and Tressel had discussed the violation at Gee’s
house for 3 hours one night.
Gee also said he had not considered
dismissing the Buckeyes coach.
"No, are you kidding?" he said with
a laugh. "Let me be very clear. I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t