Ohio State Coach Resigns After Scandal

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Ohio State University head football coach Jim Tressel resigned yesterday after a scandal claiming his Buckeyes traded OSU memorabilia for things such as tattoos, cars and cash.

The hasty resignation, first reported by The Columbus Dispatch, capped six months of mayhem in the program and came the same day Sports Illustrated released a supposed tell-all of the events, which brought to light more of the dirty details, including new allegations.

The magazine stated that the violations began during Tressel’s second season at OSU in 2002, involve at least 28 players (22 more than had previously been reported) and the memorabilia was traded for marijuana, which former OSU defensive end Robert Rose spoke about on the record.

It started about six months ago when five players were discovered to have received discounted tattoos and cash from the owner of local tattoo parlor Fine Line Ink, Edward Rife. But the NCAA decided to let the Buckeyes play in the Sugar Bowl and start their five-game suspension in the 2011 season, despite knowing Rife was the subject of federal drug-trafficking case.

Then, when OSU officials began preparing an appeal for the findings, they discovered Tressel had known about the involvement since April 2010. Tressel had signed an NCAA compliance form in September pledging he didn’t know of any wrongdoings his athletes were committing. In addition, his contract (and NCAA rules) specified his superiors or compliance department had to be informed about any potential NCAA rules violations. But the only person Tressel told was a personal mentor via email.

The new accusations in the Sports Illustrated article indict an additional nine current players as well as other former Buckeyes whose alleged offenses may fall within the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations on violations.

Athletic director Gene Smith issued a statement after the release of the article: “During the course of an investigation, the university and the NCAA work jointly to review any new allegations that come to light, and will continue to do so until the conclusion of the investigation,” he said. “You should rest assured that these new allegations will be evaluated in exactly this manner. Beyond that, we will have no further comment.”

The college had previously stood behind Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years and posted a 106-22 record in his 10 years as coach.

In his resignation letter, however, it seemed as if the school agreed he should leave.

“After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach,” the letter said. “The appreciation that (wife) Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable … We know that God has a plan for us and we will be fine. We will be Buckeyes forever.”

“We stand by our statement that he resigned,” OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said. “We have a resignation letter from coach Tressel.”

Tressel, who made around $3.5 million a year, is currently scheduled to appear before the NCAA’s infractions committee on Aug. 12 for lying to the NCAA and covering it up, which—according to The Huffington Post— is “the most egregious of sins for a coach in the eyes of college sports’ ruling body.”

OSU  announced that assistant coach Luke Fickell, already slated to take over for Tressel during his self-imposed five-game suspension for his violations, will be the Buckeyes coach for the 2011 season. It will begin looking for a permanent coach to take over next year, but rumors are already circulating that Urban Meyer is the favorite choice.

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