- Ohio State’s athletic department was not tagged with “lack of institutional control” or “failure to monitor”, indicating that the investigative wing of the NCAA determined this to be Tressel’s fault and Tressel’s fault alone.
- The NCAA will want some more answers as the process is ongoing. Interestingly, they will want to know more about Chris Cicero and Ted Sarniak. Cicero is the lawyer who tipped Tressel about the matter. Their relationship appears to be mostly collegial, an artifact of their time in Buckeye football in the mid-1980s when Jim Tressel was an assistant coach and Cicero was a walk-on. The NCAA also wants a reason why Tressel decided to forward Cicero’s information to Ted Sarniak. Sarniak is a Jeannette businessman whose name emerged during the recruitment of Terrelle Pryor, especially emerging among Penn State’s and Michigan’s fan base when Pryor decided to go to neither school. Ohio State’s position is that the relationship with Sarniak is not improper. It is unlikely that will change as a result of the process.
- A seventh player has emerged in Tat Gate. I understand that this is a minor detail in what has essentially become Tressel’s saga, but I find this fascinating. The Dispatch named seven “current and former” players identified by the NCAA during their investigation. We knew six of the seven: the Tat Five + Jordan Whiting. There is now a seventh, presumably a “former” player if we understand the Dispatch correctly. In the Dispatch’s write-up, they redact the names but list the transactions. Adams, Herron, Posey, Pryor and Whiting are listed as Players A through E, alphabetically. Player G is the mystery player. His transgressions are pretty impressive, occurring between November 2008 and May 2010. Read the transactions. I am automatically very curious.
Player G: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,500), two “Gold Pants” awards ($250 each), helmet ($150) and pants ($30) frm Michigan game and Rose Bowl watch ($250) for $2,430. Received $55 discount on two tattoos. Paid $100 to obtain team autographs on two helmets. Received $2,420 discount on purchase of used vehicle and $800 loan for vehicle repairs.
- We have a timeline now. A written response on Ohio State’s end is due July 5th. On August 12th, Tressel, Smith and Gee will appear before the infractions committee in Indianapolis, Indiana to state their case. That may be no indication of a prompt final decision on behalf of the NCAA, especially if Ohio State asks for more time to fully respond. A final decision may come some time during the middle of the season.
- The NCAA threatened Ohio State could be reclassified as a repeat offender, given the Troy Smith $500 hand shake and the Jim O’Brien saga. It seems odd that they would, especially if the athletic department was not charged with any malfeasance. Troy Smith’s $500 hand shake was caught immediately, self-reported, and resulted in a bowl game suspension and suspension for the first game of 2005. O’Brien’s misdeeds were in a separate sport entirely. Along the Olentangy also questions why the NCAA would threaten this if it found no misconduct on behalf of the university or the athletic department.
- By reaffirming ethical misconduct on Tressel’s part and limiting the NCAA limiting its charges to Tressel in particular, Ohio State avoids broader systemic charges but opens the possibility of additional penalties for Tressel. I think this is what the athletic department wanted to get when they self-reported, but it does increase the probability of a show-cause penalty levied by the NCAA. This is a worst-case scenario and, in practice, amounts to a blacklisting of a coach by the NCAA. It remains as such for Jim Tressel and Ohio State, but its probability likely increased as a result of the notice of allegations. By admitting to unethical misconduct, the NCAA could levy additional penalties against Ohio State if they choose to keep him employed. This, in turn, may be too much for Gene Smith to tolerate, resulting in Tressel’s dismissal.
- A whole spectrum of potential penalties exists between show-cause and the NCAA accepting Ohio State’s self-imposed punishment. When the NCAA’s notice of allegations charged that Tressel willingly used then-ineligible players, it opened the very real probability that the 2010 season (sans the Sugar Bowl win) would be vacated. Ohio State could also get a bowl ban and scholarship reductions of unknown severity. Still, if the NCAA is convinced this is Tressel’s cross to bear, Tressel-specific punishments are possible. For example, the NCAA could add to his game suspensions for 2011 and/or could restrict recruiting privileges.
- We all have hunches about what the NCAA will do, mine being that the NCAA will add to Ohio State’s self-imposed punishments. The NCAA is cross-pressured. Namely, it wants to accomplish two things here. One is appear tough on those that cheat, as Tressel was found to have done. The second is to have athletic departments take care of things in-house. The NCAA has a broadly negative image it needs to improve by coming down hard on someone like Tressel, who was walked out by his athletic departments with wrists out. However, it lacks the resources to police the litany of schools that constitutes its membership. So, it would want to create incentives for athletic departments to self-report. Otherwise, no athletic department would self-report and the NCAA would only have innuendo as evidence under most circumstances. The NCAA, logically, needs to signal to other schools that the expected utility for self-reporting is strictly greater than the expected utility for a school choosing to cover-up or remain obstinate. If not, even risk averse schools would have incentive to obfuscate. This is only thinking through the strategic dilemma of the NCAA and how that might mollify our punishment, certainly with respect to program killers like extensive scholarship reductions and multiple bowl bans. I cannot profess to know what the NCAA will do at this stage. No one can.
In the interim, Buckeye fans should know that ostensibly nothing has changed. Beyond the emergence of this seventh player, there is ultimately nothing new (certainly no bomb shells) to emerge in the NCAA’s report and notice of allegations. No additional punishments were levied against the Tat Five and nothing was added to Jordan Whiting, whose transactions were meager by comparison. The notice of allegations list the extent of the violations. A punishment for those violations comes next.
All that has ostensibly changed as a result of this is the amount of trolling you will find on ESPN or on your Twitter feed, or, especially, with respect to Kirk Herbstreit who oddly finds himself being praised more and more for starting a feud with a college athlete and mirroring Twitter’s lowest common denominator. However, you should be used to this by now, and the fact that college football punditry degenerated to the worst elements of Fox News and MSNBC long, long ago. So, yes: this sucks and the punishments will not be pleasant for fans. It also sucks being bombarded with Pat Forde’s one sentence paragraphs, but this might be old hat for you by now.
Ohio State fans should be critical of what Tressel did, lest we collectively add nothing to the discourse here. It was particularly idiotic and blatantly unethical, especially for a violation of bylaws by six players on the team that were fairly minor. Since fans, in many ways, suffer the consequences too, we should be critical and prying. Even Chris Spielman, perhaps the second most beloved figure in Columbus, was very critical in his evaluation of someone he repeatedly called his friend. So, be critical and disappointed and don’t pretend that what Tressel did was anything other than bold-faced wrong. But, don’t be surprised when you read or hear dumb shit that will make you roll your eyes. We’re going to hear it for a while, so just get used to it. It has not negatively effected the football team, whose responses looked more like a “rally ’round the flag” effect that all sitting Presidents would envy and whose available veteran leadership is making strides towards compensating for the suspensions to begin the 2011 season.