Jim Tressell

COI hearing over, OSU releases letters and returns BcS money

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As expected, Ohio State’s appearance in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions produced nothing in the way of hard news regarding the allegations and potential sanctions the Buckeyes are facing.  It did, however, produce a couple of interesting tidbits that were released around the time the hearing took place.

First, however, the mundane.  OSU officials, including athletic director Gene Smith and former head coach Jim Tressel, were questioned by members of the committee for, by most accounts, nearly four hours in Indianapolis Friday morning and into early afternoon.  No decisions were made on the sanctions OSU self-imposed earlier this year; that’s expected to come in 6-12 weeks.

Following the hearing, no one from the Ohio State side would speak to the media, although Tressel released a statement talking around his appearance and apologizing once again to Buckeye Nation.

“I had an open and constructive exchange with the committee on infractions. They were well prepared and will now go about their work in deliberations. Again, I would like to apologize to the Buckeye nation, most especially to the players, staff and fans who remain so dear to me.”

Now, on to news containing a little more meat than that particular bone.

Earlier this week, Pat Forde of ESPN.com caused a mini-maelstrom by reporting that Ohio State had received a letter from the NCAA stating that the investigation into the football program was still ongoing.  The school responded by releasing a statement denying there were any new allegations.  Based on the release of two letters by the university today, they both appear to be technically correct.  Somewhat.

The first letter, addressed to OSU president E. Gordon Gee, contained “an updated list of documents comprising the record of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.”  There was no specific mention of an ongoing investigation in that letter.  However, that letter did reference a document titled “Letter from Director of Enforcement Stephanie Hannah regarding the status of the investigation” and was dated July 14, 2011.  That was the second letter, and it was also released by the university today.

In that letter, Hannah writes that, after a previous email on the situation had been sent, ” an amended notice of allegations containing one additional violation related to the first allegation was issued to the involved parties” — the involved parties being OSU and Tressel, among others, as the unspecified new “violation” likely pertained in some way to the former coach; that assumption’s gleaned from Hannah writing that the coach’s attorney “understood that the continuing investigation could potentially lead to additional allegations involving Mr. Tressel.”

Hannah goes on to write that it is still possible to move forward with the Aug. 12 hearing despite the one additional violation, although she notes that “additional review is necessary” and that “the investigation remains open.”  As the investigation remains open per the NCAA, Hannah advised OSU what could happen if further allegations are proven.

The institution understands and agrees that additional allegations may result from the ongoing inquiry and that the violations set forth in the current notice of allegations may form the partial basis for a failure to monitor of lack of institutional control when viewed in light of any additional violations. The institution also understands that if new violations are discovered, a second hearing may be necessary.

In addition to the release of the two previously unseen letters, the school also announced that they would be returning their share of the BcS money they received for playing in the Sugar Bowl.  As any money received from BcS bowl games is split in the Big Ten, OSU will be returning roughly $338,000.  We’re assuming that means they will be returning it to the conference, although that’s unclear right now.

So, thus far, Tressel’s decision to launch a one-man cover-up and lie about knowledge of potential violations has cost the university more than $1.1 million — $300K-plus in BcS money, more than $800K for the NCAA investigation — and that total doesn’t even include the immeasurable harm to the university’s reputation.

Police report details how forklift ran over Michigan RB Drake Johnson

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Jim Harbaugh called it a “miracle” Wolverines running back Drake Johnson was not seriously harmed when he was run over by a forklift in April, and a police report unearthed Tuesday detailed exactly how it happened.

According to the document obtained by the Detroit News, a forklift operator identified named Matt Johnson was operating his vehicle at Michigan’s indoor track facility “and felt a bump, stating he thought he ran over a starting block, when he saw Drake Johnson, a student-athlete, roll from under the forklift. And M. Johnson realized he had ran over Drake Johnson who was sitting on the track floor stretching.”

The operator only realized he ran over the running back when he rolled out from under the vehicle.

Johnson was examined by a Michigan athletic trainer at the scene, then again at Schembechler Hall before being transported to U-M Hospital’s emergency room by athletic staff.

“All I can say is thank god,” Johnson later tweeted.

“I can tell you this, it would have killed a lesser man, but he is blue twisted steel, very flexible and amazing,” Harbaugh said on the call. “But it’s one of those miraculous things and he is doing well.”

“It’s a miracle right up there with Easter. Just thanking God he is all right, that’s my thoughts on it.”

Pac-12 to tamper down on select #Pac12AfterDark kickoffs

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 07:  Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott stands in front of the Stanford Cardinal as they celebrate the Pac 12 Championship after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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When you allow television networks to pay you $3 billion to broadcast football games and happen to be located on the West Coast, you’re going to pay for it in the form of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox want eyeballs on their networks as long as possible on fall Saturdays, and they’re not putting SEC games on at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

So, naturally, the Pac-12 drew those time slots.

And they absolutely hated it.

Remember, this is a conference that only recently joined the 21st century. For decades, the conference was happy with its 10 teams, its football games played on Saturday afternoons and its basketball schedule diced into a handy Thursday-Saturday format. Larry Scott was hired in 2009 to modernize the league while increasing the bottom line, and part of that required late kickoffs.

But on Tuesday the conference announced it has worked with its television partners to reduce the number of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox won’t change their late slots, but the conference has received clearance to play Pac-12 Network games in previously exclusive windows of 2 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. local time. The change is expected to reduce the late night kickoffs by “up to” four games.

“The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person.”

Additionally, the conference announced it has instituted a field storming fine structure of $25,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for a third offense. The SEC has a similar structure on its books.

“The Pac-12 Council carefully considered this policy and its impact on our fans who loyally support our teams,” Cal AD Mike Williams said. “This enhanced policy underscores the importance our universities place on the safety and welfare of our student-athletes, officials and fans, and will allow us to educate staffs and fans on procedures going forward.”

Finally, Pac-12 Network will start broadcasting eSports contests between member schools. Clear your schedule now.

Washington promotes Jennifer Cohen to athletics director

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When Scott Woodward left his post as Washington’s athletics director for the same job at Texas A&M in January, the Huskies promoted Jennifer Cohen to be the program’s interim AD.

Washington spent the next four months searching far and wide for Woodward’s replacement, and ended up finding her already sitting in Woodward’s old chair.

“I am very pleased to announce Jen’s appointment,” Washington president Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement. “She has all the skills and energy to provide exceptional leadership for Husky athletics. Her years of experience leading its fundraising program, along with her direct involvement overseeing football, provide a strong foundation for assuming overall leadership for the department.  This is the right time for her, and I look forward to a very exciting time for our students, coaches and fans of Husky athletics.”   

The Tacoma native joined the Huskies’ athletics department in 1998 as an assistant director of development and eventually rose to handle all of UW’s fundraising efforts. Before becoming interim AD, Cohen also oversaw the Huskies’ football and baseball programs.

“I am humbled, honored, and extremely thankful for this opportunity,” said Cohen. “The University of Washington has been part of my life for nearly two decades, and I believe our department is poised to accomplish great things. Together, we will work to positively impact our student-athletes, inspire a championship culture, and build and unite our community. I believe there is no better place to achieve these things than at Washington, and I can’t wait to get started.”

From a football standpoint, Cohen inherits a program on more stable footing than it’s been in a decade and a half — and considering the turmoil the Rose Bowl-bound 2001 Huskies experienced off the field, one may have to go back to the national championship days under Don James in the early 1990’s to find a rosier time for Huskies football. Chris Petersen is entrenched as head coach and has Washington positioned to be the nation’s top sleeper heading into this fall, and Husky Stadium recently underwent $50 million in renovations that Cohen herself fundraised.

Cohen also arrives to the position with Petersen’s enthusiastic approval.

DB Davon Jacobs decides to transfer from Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: Davon Jacobs #29 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tackles Jordan Fredrick #9 of the Wisconsin Badgers in the second quarter at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Another day, another player who’s decided to move on from his college football starting point.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, nj.com is reporting that senior defensive back Davon Jacobs has decided to transfer out of first-year head coach Chris Ash’s football program.  The fact that Jacobs had fallen behind on the safety depth chart this spring.

Jacobs is entering his fifth-year season, but he has yet to graduate.  So, if he wants to finish his career at the FBS level, he’d need to graduate this summer.  If not, he could drop down to the FCS level and be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

Last season, Jacobs started the first three games before being sidelined with a concussion.  He came back to start one more game before being reinjured and missing the remainder of the season.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, Jacobs played in 25 games the next two seasons.  Included in that was a pair of starts, one each in 2013 and 2014.