Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JIM TRESSEL ADMITS WRONGDOING; GETS TWO-GAME SUSPENSION, FINE

Jim Tressel
The Buckeye Times/D. Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel will be suspended for the first two games of 2011; will have to attend a compliance seminar; and will be fined $250,000 for not reporting possible player violations when he first became aware of them in April 2010.

An emotional Tressel, as well as university president E. Gordon Gee and director of athletics Gene Smith, addressed the media on Tuesday night in Columbus regarding the recent accusations by Yahoo! Sports that the Buckeyes mentor was made aware of player violations more than eight months before it was reported to the NCAA.

In December, five Ohio State players — Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas — were suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 regular season after selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits.

Tressel, as well as Smith, stated then that they were not made aware of the violations until December 2010. However, according to a source of Yahoo! Sports, Tressel had been alerted by a "concerned party" last April that members of the football team had provided memorabilia to a local tattoo artist named Edward Rife in exchange for money and services.

Tressel admitted on Tuesday night that the accusations he withheld information about the violations were accurate and apologized to the entire Ohio State community for his wrong doing.

"I am sorry and disappointed this happened," Tressel said. "At the time it occurred, I thought I was doing the right thing. I understand my responsibility to represent Ohio State and the game of football. I apologize to any and all of the people I have let down. I will grow from this experience."

According to Tressel's contract, withholding information from the university about violations could result in his termination.

However, Smith squashed all the rumors and speculation about Tressel's future with the Buckeyes.

"Anywhere we end up, Jim Tressel is our football coach," Smith said Tuesday night. "Jim Tressel is a coach of young men and we are behind him 100-percent."

Gee also stood behind Tressel on Tuesday night.

"Coach Tressel has acknowledged he erred and takes full responsibility for his actions," Gee said. "During the past decade, he has devoted his life to the university, the students on his team, and so many others in the larger community ...

"This university is very committed to this coach, and this president is very committed to this coach."

When asked if he had ever pondered firing Tressel, Gee quickly responded, "No! Are you kidding me?"

Tressel spoke about a series of e-mails he received from an unnamed attorney in April of 2010 regarding an Federal investigation of a local tattoo parlor owner named Eddie Rife. The entire transcripts of the e-mails were given to the members of the media on Tuesday night.

The e-mails stated that the Federal Government raided Rife's house and seized $70,000 in cash and "a lot of Ohio State memorabilia; including championship rings."

The e-mails also stated that OSU players had been given free tattoos in exchange for signed memorabilia.

The sanctions against Tressel were self-imposed by the university. There is still a possibility for further action being taken by the NCAA.