Jim Tressel and Ohio State: Report Says School Faces "Severe" NCAA Penalties

Rich ThomaselliSenior Writer IApril 25, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 30:  Head Coach Jim Tressel listens to a member of the media during a press conference before the start of Spring practices at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at The Ohio State University on March 30, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Ohio State University football program and coach Jim Tressel could be in more trouble than initially thought over Tattoo-Gate.

The Columbus Dispatch has obtained a copy of the NCAA's "notice of allegations" given to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, and the charges are severe.

The Dispatch reports that while the school appears to have avoided the dreaded "failure to monitor" and "lack of institutional control" penalties, the NCAA nonetheless has accused Tressel of dishonesty for hiding violations by seven current and former players who sold awards and equipment to a tattoo parlor owner.

The school was notified last December of a federal investigation of the tattoo parlor owner that involved players selling their memorabilia. But Tressel knew about it eight months prior to that, in April of 2010, when he received an email from a Columbus attorney and Ohio State fan who was privy to information regarding the U.S. Attoney's investigation.

But Tressel did not notify the school or his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, that he knew about the investigation or the allegations.

The Dispatch wrote that the best-case scenario for Ohio State is the NCAA accepting the university's self-imposed sanctions on Tressel, which include a $250,000 fine and five-game suspension. The worst-case scenario is a range of sanctions that could prevent the Buckeyes from playing in the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game next season, and strip OSU of last year's victories and Big Ten title.

In the notice of allegations, the NCAA warned Ohio State that it could treat the school as a repeat offender, given tOSU's previous cases in which former quarterback Troy Smith took money from a booster, and former basketball coach Jim O'Brien gave a recruit $6,000.

According to the Dispatch, "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," the 13-page NCAA document says.

The paper also reported that Tressel exchanged numerous emails, phone calls and text messages with the attorney who sent him the original e-mail alerting him of the federal investigation, with star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and Pryor's mentors, as well as calling an FBI agent within days of getting the first email. OSU records, however, do not show a single call or email from Tressel to Ohio State compliance officers.