According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State has offered its official response to the NCAA following the notice of violations by its football program received earlier this year.
The university voluntarily vacated its 2010 season, losing 12 wins in the process. It also vacated its Big Ten championship and Sugar Bowl victory. Furthermore, Ohio State imposed a two-year probation period on itself, taking effect immediately.
The response includes an admission of guilt, as the university confirms that its football program was guilty of "major violations" and is a "repeat offender". However, Ohio State also stated that no further punishment is warranted, essentially requesting that the NCAA be satisfied with the school-administered discipline.
This bold request is accomplished by throwing Jim Tressel under the bus.
"The responsibility is upon Tressel. No other institutional personnel were aware [of the violations]...The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel."
Putting aside for a moment the legitimacy of these claims, Ohio State chose to include this language hoping that the NCAA will agree that the guilty party at the center of the violations has been dealt with and will therefore spare the program from further consequences. Specifically, the Buckeyes are seeking to avoid a postseason ban and scholarship reductions.
The response also suggests that while the school "sought the resignation of Tressel," the beleaguered coach was not "forced out."
All of this is, of course, complete nonsense. The notion that Tressel could have acted in isolation is absurd. Other members of his staff, and very likely other employees of the university, had to have at least some knowledge of what was happening. Ohio State's attempt to deflect blame is borne out of desperation.
In fact, the wording of the response indicates that the program really hasn't learned from its series of mistakes. There still appears to be a severe lack of accountability among the personnel who remain in the wake of Tressel's departure.
Aside from the half-dozen suspended players, including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Tressel is the only one who had to pay the price for this whole sordid affair.
Now it's a matter of waiting to see whether or not the ploy will work. Will the NCAA accept that Tressel was a lone outlaw? And, if so, will it agree that the school shouldn't be punished more than has been to date?
That seems unlikely, given the magnitude of the violations and the resulting fallout.
And if they do receive further sanctions, then the Buckeyes will have sold out Jim Tressel for nothing.
Tressel deserved to be fired or forced to resign. It had to happen.
But the idea that no one else will share in his fate is not acceptable. If the university wants to prove that it's truly turned over a new leaf, it will take more than an expanded compliance department and "new restrictions on how and when players receive awards, in an attempt to ensure they do not sell them."
Ohio State needs to come clean, fully admit its misdeeds, and take responsibility.
Assigning so much of the blame to the outgoing Tressel is yet another half-measure, another bit of shameful behavior in an embarrassment that just won't end.
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