After much delay, Sports Illustrated released George Dohrmann’s long-awaited investigative piece on Ohio State last night. It confirms speculation with details. It includes an excellent recollection of prior reporting. Though, it’s far more of a smoking gun for Ohio State, than it is for Jim Tressel.
Dohrmann uses previously reported material to weave a narrative of Tressel’s consistent malfeasances. Here are the new revelations.
* The tattoos for memorabilia scandal was not an isolated incident. According to eyewitnesses, at least 28 players bartered items at two Columbus tattoo parlors stemming back to 2002. A source also claims four OSU players traded memorabilia for marijuana, one for a large amount.
* A source claims Tressel, when he was an assistant at Ohio State under Earle Bruce, rigged raffles at the school’s football camp to ensure prominent recruits won prizes. If true this would have been a minor NCAA violation, nearly thirty years ago.
Whether it was six or 28 players, the tattoos are rule violations not signs of fostering endemic depravity. The issue is how Tressel and Ohio State handled it. Tressel’s cardinal crime was having knowledge about specific violations and LYING TO THE NCAA about it. Maybe there’s a shady pattern stemming from years gone by, but that’s irrelevant to that specific charge. This story didn’t construct Tressel’s coffin, nor did it supply the nails. His resignation already was a question of when.
Characterizing this as a takedown of Tressel was a bit overblown. The true ramifications may come for the school itself. Ohio State’s investigation in December found “no other violations around this case” and claimed it was “isolated to these young men.” Subsequent revelations suggest, at the absolute least, that investigation should have been far more thorough. Whether its failure was willful ignorance, negligence or a coverup, it calls into question every facet of Ohio State’s self-policing and the integrity of those responsible for it.
Combining the tattoos for memorabilia and the car deal investigation, Ohio State is now facing a systemic, program-related issue, rather than an isolated, Tressel-related issue. This suggests the NCAA will hold the school responsible, with devastating USC-level sanctions becoming a probable outcome. This explains the sudden sea-change, and why, on a sleepy national holiday, Jim Tressel was encouraged to resign and the school immediately has enhanced its investigation of Terrelle Pryor, who is at the center of both controversies.
[Photo via Getty]
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