Ohio State released its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations Friday and it’s, to say the least, an interesting tack the university has chosen to take.
In the response, OSU “acknowledges that this case is major due to the ethical conduct citation” in regards to former head coach Jim Tressel, but it “believes that little institutional responsibility exists for the preferential treatment violation in allegation #1”, which involves the players and impermissible benefits they received as well as — and this will be the crux of their argument in front of the NCAA in August — distancing themselves from allegation #2, which involves unethical conduct on the part of Tressel.
“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,” the report read.
“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.”
As a result, OSU has self-imposed the following sanctions on its football program, which the NCAA can sign-off on or add to:
a. Vacate all victories during the 2010 football season, including the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl;
b. Vacate the 2010 Big Ten Conference Football Championship (co-champions);
c. Imposed a two-year probationary period effective July 8, 2011;
d. Withhold four current student-athletes named in Allegation #1 from the first five games of the 2011 football season (additionally, one student-athlete who would have been withheld for five games has departed the institution to pursue a professional football career);
e. Withhold one student-athlete named in Allegation #1 from the first game of the 2011 football season and withhold another student-athlete named in Allegation #1 from those number of games resulting from the decision of the SAR Staff; and
f. Sought and accepted the resignation of Tressel on May 30, 2011
The punitive actions mentioned in “d” and “e” have been known for months, while “f” was revealed by athletic director Gene Smith during an interview that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch today. What’s most interesting, however, is what’s not contained in the punitive actions self-imposed by the school, namely no bowl ban and no loss of scholarships.
Based on the message sent by the NCAA to USC around this time last year, it’s hard to fathom that the OSU football program will be permitted to skate without one or both of those sanctions being slapped on the program by the time all of the NCAA dust clears.
In addition to the punitive measures, the university has also instituted, or will institute, several corrective actions, including an increase in the number of full-time compliance officials from six to eight; waiting until a player’s eligibility has expired to issue institutional awards, including the storied “gold pants”; and further educate both players and Columbus-area businesses on preferential treatment.
Add it all up, and OSU firmly believes that the sanctions they imposed on themselves should be enough and asks that the NCAA take no further action while once again stressing their lone-wolf characterization of Tressel.
Regarding Tressel’s penalties, the institution’s analysis was that Tressel’s penalties should reflect the seriousness of the position in which he placed both himself and the University. One of his penalties was suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season, which was the same as the student-athletes’ penalties. The University also intended to prohibit all of his off-campus recruiting activities for one year, which reflected the seriousness of Tressel’s failure to report. The University eventually determined that it was in the best interest of the University and Tressel for Tressel to resign, and he agreed to do so.
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.
Ohio State is schedule to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12, with a decision from The Association expected at some point during the 2011 regular season. After some initial uncertainty, it was reported today that Tressel will appear in front of the COI.
For OSU’s full response, click HERE.