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Uh-oh: Jim Tressel could be in major NCAA hot water

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If you are an Ohio State fan and thought, with the exception of serving the five-game suspensions, the imbroglio involving multiple Buckeyes receiving impermissible benefits was over, you may be very, very wrong.

And the school’s head coach may have bought himself a world of NCAA hurt.  Allegedly.

According to a report by Dan Wetzel and Charlie Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, “coach Jim Tressel was informed that several Buckeyes players were selling memorabilia more than eight months before the school claims it was made aware of the scheme.”  That startling accusation stems from a two-month investigation by the website.

Sources told the website that Tressel was informed in April of 2010 that some of his players were selling/bartering Buckeyes memorabilia and mementos to the owner of Columbus tattoo parlor.  At a December press conference announcing the suspensions for “The Buckeye Five” — quarterback Terrelle Pryor, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Boom Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — athletic director Gene Smith stated that the school did not become aware of the violations until Dec. 7, a full eight months after Tressel allegedly learned of potential violations committed by members of the football program.

If in fact Tressel knew of what his players were doing and did not inform the athletic department, the football program in general and Tressel specifically could be in for significant repercussions from the NCAA and the school itself — up to and including Tressel being dismissed for cause by the university.

If Tressel failed to inform Smith or the Ohio State compliance department about the players’ dealings with Rife, he could be charged with multiple NCAA violations including unethical conduct, failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. In general, a coach is required to act on, or pass along reasonable information about possible rule violations for further investigation.

Section 4.1(d) of Tressel’s contract with Ohio State stipulates that he “supervise and take appropriate steps to ensure … members of the Team know, recognize and comply with any such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules and immediately report to the (Athletic) Director and to the (Athletic) Department’s Office of Compliance Services in writing if any person or entity, including without limitation, representatives of Ohio State’s athletic interests, has violated or is likely to violate any such laws, University Rules and Governing Athletic Rules.”

Section 5.1 (m) of his contract also states that failure to promptly report “any violations” could lead to “termination by Ohio State for cause.”

Ohio State itself could be cited with playing ineligible players and forced to vacate its 2010 season, when it won a share of the Big Ten championship and finished 12-1. It could also face further sanctions for major infractions.

Obviously, if it can be proved that Tressel had prior knowledge of the violations and did not report it — or that it was reported to the athletic department but they did not act on it — the ramifications could be monumental for both the coach and the program.

Given what’s known publicly about Tressel and the kind of man he is, it’s hard to believe he would have this type of information on his players and just squat on it.  However, Wetzel & Company have a tremendous track record of nailing stories such as this, so it’s highly doubtful they would run with something as major as this has the potential to become without  having every “i” dotted and “t” crossed.

And that should be very, very sobering news for both the head coach and fans of the football program.

UPDATED 9:02 p.m. ET: Both Ken Gordon of the Columbus Dispatch and Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer report that Ohio State will have no comment on the report tonight.

James Pierre, three-star 2016 signee, given release from UNC

5 Sep 1998:  General view of the mascot for the North Carolina Tar Heels displayed during the game against the Miami Ohio Redhawks at the Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Redhawks defeated the Tar Heels 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Chris Cova
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Once at 26, North Carolina’s 2016 recruiting class has been pared by one.

According to a report from 247Sports.com, 2016 signee James Pierre has been given a release from the National Letter of Intent he signed with UNC.  The recruiting website reports that Pierre was denied admissions by the university, leading to his full release.

Because he has not attended any classes at UNC, Pierre would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS program.  He’d then have the standard five years to use four seasons of eligibility.

A three-star 2016 recruit, Pierre was rated as the No. 48 safety in the country.  In addition to UNC, Pierre held scholarship offers from, among others, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

RB Denzell Evans opts to transfer from Arkansas

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Arkansas lost, at least temporarily, a running back to injury last month.  This month, they’ve lost one permanently, for a whole other reason entirely.

Thursday, Bret Bielema confirmed that Denzell Evans plans to transfer out of his Razorbacks football program.  No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

The running back will remain enrolled in school until he graduates, then move on to an undetermined location.  As Evans will be a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately if his new college football home plays at the FBS level.

As a bonus for his new program, Evans will actually have two years of eligibility left to use.

The past two seasons after redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Evans had played in 15 games.  Evans rushed for 84 yards on 13 carries in his Razorbacks career; 48 of those yards and six of the carries came in the fourth quarter of an Oct. 31 win over UT-Martin this past season.

Evans, a three-star 2013 signee, scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the spring game last month.

Report: Joe Paterno knew of Jerry Sandusky abuses as far back as 1976

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Oh boy.

As an insurance case connected to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse case continues to wind its way through the legal system, PennLive.com writes, ” a new bombshell” was dropped Thursday.  According to the newspaper website, a court order in the case indicates that deceased former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was aware in 1976 of sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky, the former Paterno right-hand man who was convicted of molesting at least 10 underage males victims during and after his long stint as a Nittany Lions assistant.

It’s further alleged in the order that Paterno did not tell his superiors of the allegations in 1976, nor subsequent allegations a decade later. From the report:

The line in question states that one of Penn State’s insurers has claimed “in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.”

The order also cites separate references in 1987 and 1988 in which unnamed assistant coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and unidentified children, and a 1988 case that was supposedly referred to Penn State’s athletic director at the time.

“There is no evidence that reports of these incidents ever went further up the chain of command at PSU,” Judge Gary Glazer wrote, in determining that because Penn State’s executive officers weren’t aware of the allegations, he would not bar those claims from insurance coverage.”

Paterno supporters, including his family, have long argued that Paterno did nothing inappropriate and did not cover up for his former coach; Paterno himself admitted, though, in an interview before he was fired in the midst of the scandal in November of 2011, “I wish I had done more.”

Thursday, Paterno’s family once again rushed to the Hall of Famer’s defense in a statement.

Over the past four-and-a-half years Joe Paterno’s conduct has been scrutinized by an endless list of investigators and attorneys.

“Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by Coach Paterno. To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.

“An allegation now about an alleged event 40 years ago, as represented by a single line in a court document regarding an insurance issue, with no corroborating evidence, does not change the facts. Joe Paterno did not, at any time, cover up conduct by Jerry Sandusky.

The case in which the 1976 allegation was revealed involves Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Co., which is arguing that it’s not responsible for reimbursing Penn State the more than $60 million it has paid out in Sandusky-related damages.

The 72-year-old Sandusky is currently serving 30-60 years after being convicted on 45 counts in a 48-count indictment.

Four-star 2017 recruit decommitted from OSU because Urban Meyer didn’t recognize him

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes shouts on the sidelines against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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What is it about  Ohio State and weird, odd recruiting stories this offseason?

Quite the kerfuffle and/or brouhaha was kicked up early last month when Kentucky signee Landon Young directed some rather pointed comments at Ohio State generally and head coach Urban Meyer specifically.  The OSU head coach responded to the criticisms by publicly chastising his coaching staff while also lamenting how his football program was portrayed by the recruit’s comments, while the recruit himself clarified and apologized for his “treated me like crap” comments.

Jump to the here and now a month later, and Meyer’s at the center of another recruiting situation.

Bruce Judson is a four-star 2017 recruit who is rated as the No. 37 player at any position in the talent-rich state of Florida.  He committed to Ohio State in January of 2015, becoming one of the first commitments for OSU for the 2017 cycle.  In October of 2015, Judson abruptly decommitted from the Buckeyes.

Why?  Generally speaking, there was a lack of communication, at least in Judson’s eyes, between himself and Meyer post-commitment. “Coach Meyer contacted me enough to get my commitment,” Judson said, “[b]ut after a couple months, he just stopped talking to me.”

Specifically, however, there was one incident that seemed to lead to the decommitment.  From an interview Judson did with SECCountry.com:

Long story short, I was walking in the hallway about to go to the indoor field and work out. He was like, ‘Hey.’ I looked around. ‘Come here.’ He was like, ‘How you doing, you like your visit?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then he’s like, ‘What up Richard LeCounte? Are you showing this guy (Judson) around?’ I was like, ‘Coach, I’m showing him around.’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him Bruce. He said, ‘Oh, Bruce Judson from Florida. The speedy guy.’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘I’m glad that you’re on board and glad you got up here.’ After that, I knew I was de-committing.

Well, at least an OSU assistant didn’t put a recruit on Twitter blast, so Meyer has that going for him.  Which is nice.

That said, 247Sports.com still gives OSU a 33-percent chance of landing Judson, although Florida, at 67 percent, is the favorite.

The LeCounte mentioned in Judson’s quote is a Georgia commit who corroborated the urn of events, although, the website writes, the four-star safety “thought it might have been a joke and Meyer purposefully didn’t recognize Judson because he had on a dark blue shirt (Michigan colors).”  According to the offended one, however, it was no joke and Meyer “should’ve known who I was.”