In a 13-page letter sent to Gordon Gee, the President of The Ohio State University, the NCAA accuses head football coach, Jim Tressel, of lying to investigators. Tressel, who is already facing a five-game suspension and a $250,000 fine, will more than likely face more serious punishment brought down by the NCAA in the near future.
What began as a scheme by players to make money (and get tattoos), has spiraled into one mess after another for the University, the football program, and Tressel.
Tressel learned of the scheme on April 2, 2010 when Columbus lawyer Christopher Cicero, a former Buckeye walk on, sent the coach an email informing him that a federal agency had found autographed Ohio State jerseys, pants, helmets, cleats, Big 10 championship rings, as well as the “gold pants” given to players for beating Michigan, during a raid of a Columbus area tattoo shop.
Tressel responded to the email stating that he would “get on it ASAP.”
He instead chose to attempt a “sweep under the rug” cover up operation. The coach never informed the top brass at Ohio State University, including AD Gene Smith, or President Gordon Gee. Instead he attempted to make the situation better, while going away, unnoticed.
The operation worked for almost 8 months, until the U.S. Attorney contacted the University after they had come across the massive collection.
Should Jim Tressel lose his job for lying to the NCAA?
After consulting with NCAA and Big 10 officials it was determined the five players involved would be suspended for the first five-games of the 2011 season. During that press conference, Tressel covered his own tracks backing away from any previous knowledge of the issue.
It was not until weeks later that he admitted, after media broke the story, that he did have prior knowledge of the problem. Soon after, he and the University decided he would be suspended and fined for his mistakes.
The five-game suspension, and the $250,000 fine are slaps on the wrist for sanctions such as these, and with the NCAA determining that Tressel did in fact lie to investigator, expect them to crack down much harsher punishment. These punishments could involve a forfeit of last season, a full season suspension for Tressel, or even loss of scholarships, and bowl ineligibility.
Stay tuned this may only be the beginning.