Consider this a “cliff notes” version of Ohio State’s response to the NCAA’s Letter of Allegations. These are the parts I found interesting or enlightening (or both, I guess). Check another post for more thoughts on the matter.
This seems important:
Also, the enforcement staff requested numerous materials from the institution. These included the provision of rules education materials and monitoring procedures (primarily in the areas of preferential treatment and extra benefits). The additional requests in these areas resulted in no additional allegations against the institution.
The University believes that little institutional responsibility exists for the preferential treatment violations in Allegation #1. While the University recognizes that the institution must take responsibility for its employee’s actions with respect to Allegation #2, the responsibility is upon Tressel. No other institutional personnel were aware of the preferential treatment violations, and Tressel had an obligation to report the potential violation to the appropriate institutional officials.
They say repeat offender should not apply because the violations are far different plus most of the actual violations were more than 10 years ago.
Mitigating factors include:
The individual (Ed Rife) involved in the provision of preferential treatment was not a representative of the University’s athletics interests and is not a contributor to the University. Rife and two of the student-athletes named in Allegation #1 met at a local nightclub.
Regarding Rife’s status as a representative, based upon a strict interpretation of Bylaw 13.02.14, Rife became a representative in April 2010 when Tressel learned that Rife had arranged or provided discounted prices on tattoos. The University does not believe if (or when) Rife became a representative is significant to the overall severity of this case. Rife was not (and continues to not be) affiliated with the University and did not have a relationship with any athletics department staff members. It appears that the nexus of the relationship was a chance meeting between Rife and two student-athletes at a local nightclub. Nevertheless, the institution sent Rife a letter (see Exhibit 1-8) disassociating him indefinitely from any contact with the University and its student-athletes. In December 2010, the compliance staff informed all student-athletes that they could not visit Fine Line Ink nor could they have any contact with Rife and specifically requested them to “defriend” Rife from their Facebook accounts.
This made me chuckle:
The office plans to partner with an organization titled Experience Columbus to communicate the message that businesses may not provide any benefits/preferential treatment to student-athletes based on their status. The compliance staff also plans to provide brochures with this message to all restaurants, bars, and service businesses (e.g., barbers and tattoo parlors) either located near campus or known by the compliance staff to be frequented by students.
They argued (sensibly so, it would seem) that players would have been ineligible in 2010 for five games are being punished just the same in 2011 after the revelation of what Tressel knew, and the school seems to consider vacating the 2010 season as an additional penalty because Tressel used ineligible players.
In summary, the University believes that the corrective and punitive actions are appropriate and negate any competitive advantage gained by the institution as a result of these violations. The University asks the Committee on Infractions to accept these penalties and take no further action.
Regarding the February 8, 2011, interview, Tressel was asked if he was “aware” that violations regarding student-athletes, particularly and, had either occurred or likely occurred, and his response was “yes.” He was asked whether he was aware “that as a result of these violations that the student-athletes likely would be ineligible for participation during the 2010 season,” and he responded that, “No, I really didn’t think of it like that.” Upon further questioning, he acknowledged that he understood that and had been involved in violations before the start of the 2010 season and that they intended to participate during the season. In response to a question on whether he was prepared to go forward with the student-athletes participating even though he knew that NCAA violations had occurred, Tressel responded that he understood that the institution was “going to get as our works deserve” and that “we were going to pay the fiddler.” As he indicated throughout his February interview, Tressel believed there was a “hierarchy” of issues, with the federal criminal investigation having the highest priority. He indicated that the NCAA issues would be resolved once the ramifications of the federal investigation were resolved.
The letter goes on to say (essentially) they tried like hell to tell the players they couldn’t sell their bowl stuff and point out they have repeatedly made public declarations about what constitutes a booster and what those folks can and can’t do (That began after the Clarett fiasco and actually rose to the level of somewhat amusing absurdity when they would post videos defining boosters on the big screen prior to games and put messages in the program. I see why that is necessary, but I always got a bit of a chuckle out of it anyway.)
Is this enough?
As noted in the response, the institution’s review in December 2010 focused upon the current student-athletes identified in the U.S. Department of Justice letter. After discovering the Tressel e-mails, the institution began its efforts to ensure that no other student-athletes with eligibility remaining had received any free or discounted tattoos or sold memorabilia. On February 4, 2011, the institution distributed a questionnaire to all football student-athletes about their attendance at or purchases from Fine Line Ink and determined that based upon the information provided, there were no additional violations.
Although the famously overhyped and overwritten Sports Illustrated rip job identified other players’ being associated with the tattoo shops, sources have been indicating for quite some time that all but one of those players was cleared by the NCAA in early June.
The University emphasizes the distinction between information available only to Tressel and the knowledge of other institutional officials regarding this matter. As noted in the Introduction Section of this report, upon receiving information about this matter from the Department of Justice in December 2010, University officials acted immediately, declared student-athletes ineligible, and sought reinstatement. In early 2011, after learning of the e-mails, the NCAA was contacted, several interviews were conducted, and the University determined that a NCAA Bylaw 10.1 violation occurred. It subsequently imposed significant corrective and punitive measures upon Tressel and the football program. In both the initial inquiry and in the determination of appropriate corrective and punitive actions, the faculty athletics representative, key attorneys from the Office of Legal Affairs, and the President’s Office became engaged in the inquiry.
(Cicero) recalled that on Christmas Eve day in 2010, he received a text message from Tressel, who asked if the information that had just recently been released concerning the reinstatement of six student-athletes related to the information (Cicero) had provided Tressel earlier in the year. Cicero said he confirmed with Tressel that it was the same information.
The school’s description of its dealings with Tressel in December leave little room for doubt that it went to reasonable lengths to find out what the coach knew and when he knew it (even if the scope of the investigation of the team still seems questionably small). Previously, it was somewhat unclear if Tressel had “lied” or simply omitted some details, but this indicates he deliberately told them things that weren’t true about what he knew.
Also, on December 16, 2010, the six student-athletes whose eligibility was affected were interviewed by institutional representatives. Shortly after the conclusion of the last student-athlete interview, Director of Athletics Gene Smith and Tressel met briefly with those institutional officials who had conducted the interviews to ask about the status of the information and its implications on the anticipated eligibility restoration requests. During that conversation, University officials asked Tressel about his knowledge of the information. More specifically, Senior Associate General Counsel for Athletics Julie Vannatta asked Tressel if he had been contacted by anyone about this matter or if he knew anything about it. Tressel replied that while he had received a tip about general rumors pertaining to certain players, such information was not specific and pertained to the players’ off-field choices. The University interpreted his responses to mean that the tip related to the social decisions/choices being made by certain student-athletes. Tressel also mentioned during this December conversation that he did not recall from whom he received the tip and that he did not know that any items had been seized. Nevertheless, the conversation represented another opportunity when Tressel could have informed the institution of his previous e-mails with Cicero.
Seeing as how roughly a week later Tressel contacted Cicero again, it’s hard to believe he didn’t know who had tipped him about the players’ involvement with Rife. I don’t believe his characterizations of the content of Cicero’s emails are accurate, either.
Information was reported to the University and the enforcement staff subsequent to the Notice of Allegations that still is being reviewed. This review continues and the University will report any additional violations if necessary in the future.
Read more here.