NCAA: Jim Tressel lied to hide violations

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel pauses while speaking during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Jay LaPrete (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The NCAA has sent Ohio State a “notice of allegations,” which accuses head coach Jim Tressel of lying to hide violations committed by the players who were suspended in December of 2010 for trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

In the notice, the NCAA says that Tressel “falsely attested” that he reported all knowledge of NCAA violations to the school. Ohio State is now set to go before the NCAA’s committee on infractions on August 12, which could lead to a stiffer punishment for Tressel down the road.

On March 8 of this year, Ohio State suspended Tressel for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined him $250,000 for failing to notify the school of the NCAA violations. But he requested that OSU AD Gene Smith extend his two-game suspension to five games, so that it coincided with the punishment levied to his players.

When you get right down to it, there really isn’t anything new here. Tressel already admitted that he lied, which is why the school suspended him. But the NCAA obviously has to conduct its own investigation, so the real story is whether or not Tressel will face further punishment. OSU has already made it clear that it’s standing by its head coach, so I wouldn’t expect Tressel to be fired regardless of the NCAA’s findings. But whether or not he could miss even more than five games next season is up for debate.

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NCAA rears its hypocritical head with Ohio State suspensions

First, the news: Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players, including star receiver Devier Posey and star running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, have been suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving improper benefits.

There were items sold and money made. There’s also some word about some free tattoos. The NCAA is forcing the players to repay the money to charity. OK, that’s fine. They screwed up, they have to suffer the consequences, we get it. It might seem a little harsh, but rules are rules, right?

Well, in the NCAA that’s a matter of opinion.

First of all, the players have not been suspended for the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas because there was a misunderstanding of the rules. To some, this might seem like a very transparent attempt to have Ohio State’s best players available for the game, which figures to be a huge money maker. If you’re thinking that, you’re right.

The NCAA and the BCS — two separate entities, mind you — are consistent when it comes to one thing, and one thing only: We make money, you don’t. It’s that simple, and until we all just accept it, we’re going to spend a lot of time getting pissed off about things like this. Not that we shouldn’t be pissed off, but I’ve found the games are more fun to watch if I just pretend the NCAA and the BCS don’t exist when it comes to college football.

Then there’s the whole, “Hey, didn’t the NCAA find wrongdoing in the Cam Newton case, but not suspend him at all?” Why yes, that’s also true. Sure, these are two different transgressions, but transgressions nonetheless. The NCAA interpereted its own rules to allow Newton to play for Auburn. The fact that he’s the best player on perhaps the nation’s best team probably had everything nothing to do with it.

Newton — the NCAA, SEC and Auburn decided — didn’t know what was going on behind his back as his father shopped him for $180,000 to Mississippi State. Newton’s ignorance of the situation wasn’t not knowing the rules, his was not knowing his own father was shopping him. Completely different.

There is one thing that’s similar in these two cases, however. The BCS and the NCAA don’t suffer anything when it comes to their bottom lines, as Newton gets to keep playing, and will be in the NFL by the time the NCAA decides to actually make a real punishment in this case. Pryor, Herron and Posey, along with the other two Ohio State players, also get to play on the big BCS stage and keep the game against Arkansas interesting. Without them, who really thinks we have a competitive Sugar Bowl?

So yes, the NCAA does actually enforce its rules — when it realizes it’s not the only one making money, that is. And that enforcement is also subject to whether or not its BCS brothers will have as much of an opportunity to make money as possible.

Glad we’re all clear on that.

Five Ohio State players suspended

The Buckeyes will be shorthanded to start the 2011 season, as five players (including QB Terrelle Pryor) will miss the first five games of the season for receiving improper benefits. Per ESPN:

Five players were found to have sold awards, gifts and university apparel, plus receive improper benefits in 2009. In addition to missing five games next season, Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey and Solomon Thomas must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity.

Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game next year and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted because of his status as a student-athlete.

All of the players be eligible for the Jan. 4 Allstate Sugar Bowl, however.

What did they sell, you ask?

Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.

Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.

Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.

Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.

Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

Good grief. Leave it to the NCAA to come down hard (five games?) on a program for breaking the rules, but still allow the players to still play in the upcoming bowl game. While these players were in the wrong, it’s telling that these unpaid student-athletes, who generate millions in revenue for the NCAA, have to resort to selling their championship rings to put some cash in their pockets.

Looking ahead to the Buckeyes’ 2011 schedule, they’ll have to face Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), Colorado and Michigan State without their star QB. Their first game back will be on Oct. 8 at Nebraska.

What do you think — is what amounts to a half-season suspension fair for what Pryor and the other players did?

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