Yahoo’s harbinger of doom has struck again. Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel have a source who claims Jim Tressel knew about players selling memorabilia in April 2010, not December as previously claimed. If substantiated, both Tressel and Ohio State could face major NCAA violations. Emphasis on the “if substantiated.”
Ohio State said it had no prior knowledge of players selling memorabilia to tattoo shop owner Edward Rife until Dec. 7, 2010, when alerted by federal officials. The Yahoo! source says “a concerned party” contacted Tressel and he “indicated that he would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.” No apparent action was taken. Both parties would be held accountable, but the degree will depend on whether Tressel informed other school officials or not.
If the allegations are true, Tressel’s situation would be untenable. Not reporting an NCAA violation is a violation. The NCAA could charge him with “unethical conduct, failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.” Instead of a cushy retirement package, the seemingly unassailable coach could (and if the allegations are true, should) be fired with cause.
Ohio State, if found guilty, would vacate the 2010 season and face further sanctions. The initial infraction would not be as bad as egregious as the Reggie Bush scandal at USC, but the university’s cover-up would likely be less palatable.
The hard part is proving this. A trusted source’s word is good enough for the reporting court, but for Ohio State to face more than public scorn there must be conclusive evidence that conversation took place. Was it over email? Is there a phone record? Anything Tressel can’t plausibly deny? We don’t know the results of the investigation. We just know there’s something to investigate.
Ohio State took heat for not responding immediately. It takes time to get ducks, and cover stories, in order.
[Photo via Getty]