Ohio State Football 2011
Ohio State's Football Team Takes Another Hit
The Ohio State Men's Basketball team is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation heading into to the Madness of March, and yet, they are not the biggest story circulating throughout Columbus.
It was announced this week that head football coach, Jim Tressel, has been suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about some of his players' involvement in a federal drug-trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia, thereby breaking NCAA rules.
Tressel had received an e-mail last April telling him that two of his players were involved in these particular allegations.
Originally, Tressel and the University said they knew nothing prior to December, after the season and before the Buckeyes Sugar Bowl victory against Arkansas.
Unfortunately for the Buckeye faithful, it looks as though that was not the case.
In addition, his failure to notify school officials of possible NCAA violations when he exchanged e-mails with an unnamed attorney last spring, Tressel also:
1). Signed a document on September 13th that said he was not aware of any NCAA violations.
2). Failed to notify school officials of the e-mails when Ohio State learned in early December that five football players had sold memorabilia.
3). Neglected to tell school officials about the e-mails when they questioned him on December 16th about his knowledge of the memorabilia sales.
During an interview last month, Tressel admitted that he knew that there would be consequences for his failure to notify compliance officials about the e-mails. He also said it was "inevitable" that the players named in the e-mail had committed NCAA violations and would be ruled ineligible.
While suspended, Tressel will not be allowed to communicate with his coaches or participate in any game-day activities.
The fine will be used to pay The Compliance Group, a Kansas-based company that helps college athletics departments deal with the NCAA during investigations.
The current sanctions are self-imposed but the NCAA will more than likely get involved and could increase the punishment for Tressel and the program.
Although it is still uncertain further sanctions will occur, possible increased punishments may include more suspension time, loss of scholarships and even probation or bowl bans.
With that being said, Ohio State's situation is not comparable to the USC situation of this past season in which the NCAA cracked down on the Trojan program for paying their players and giving them excessive incentives.
Tressel recently spoke to the media about the situation, admitting that he should have been more proactive.
"I learned I probably needed to go to the top legal counsel person at the university for advice when the e-mails first arrived", Tressel said. "Now I've learned that most certainly."
While talking to the media, Tressel, who has always been very well-spoken and projects confidence in every word seemed very sincere in his apology.
"I am sincerely saddened by the fact I let some people down and didn't do things as well as I possibly could," added Tressel.
Despite the allegations of his players and the recent accusations against him and his team, OSU Athletic Director, Gene Smith, and school President, E. Gordon Gee still stand behind their coach.
"Wherever we end up, at the end of day, Jim Tressel is our football coach," Smith said.
Gee concurred. He said he spent three hours in his home with Tressel discussing the matter and asking him all manner of questions. Gee said he wanted to feel confident there was no other "smoking gun" out there.
"I can tell you there is a great deal of grief in this man," Gee said. Then he went on to praise Tressel for the good he has done off the field for student-athletes and the university, from raising the team's grade-point average to fundraising work for the library renovation and the medical center.
So with their coach sidelined for up to two games, and a couple of key players suspended for the first five games as well, the Ohio State football team figures to have an uphill battle to remain among the nation's top teams this coming fall.
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