In the immediate aftermath of Jim Tressel‘s school-imposed two-game suspension and $250,000 fine for committing a major NCAA violation, emails from an attorney — later identified as a former Ohio State player — were obtained by various media outlets that showed the Buckeyes head coach had advanced knowledge that at least two of his players had possibly received impermissible benefits.
In the emails that were released by the school, however, the names of the players identified by lawyer Christopher Cicero as selling/bartering memorabilia to the owner of Columbus, Oh., tattoo parlor were redacted. Thanks to Cicero, they’re redacted no more.
Speaking to John Barr of ESPN.com, Cicero reveals that he informed Tressel in the series of emails exchanged between the two starting last April that Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey were the two players he knew of that had potentially received impermissible benefits. In other words, Tressel had information connecting his star quarterback — and only real option at the position when the likes of Joe Bauserman (guffaw) and Ken Guiton (chuckle) are next on the depth chart — to NCAA violations and sat on the 411 for nine months, all the while lying to his school and the NCAA about what he knew.
And it’s not just Pryor; all Posey did was finish second in both receptions and receiving yards in 2010.
Would Tressel have cloaked himself in the confidentiality defense and squatted on the issue for several months if the previously redacted names had been Bauserman/Guiton and Garrett Hummel?
Speaking of that “defense”, Tressel’s public stance on his actions — or lack thereof — took an additional hit from Cicero during his conversation with the website. Tressel claimed during the press conference announcing his suspension that he didn’t report the information he had to anyone in the athletic department because he was asked to keep it confidential — of course, Tressel wasn’t asked to keep the information confidential until the second email, two weeks after he had received the initial information, but whatever.
Cicero claims that the request for confidentiality pertained to the public at large, not to Tressel’s superiors.
Cicero said when he asked Tressel to keep the e-mails confidential, he meant that he would not go to the media or the public, not that Tressel couldn’t inform the school or launch his own investigation.
Regardless of what Cicero’s intentions were for seeking confidentiality, Tressel had a duty to turn over what he had learned to someone, anyone in the athletic department. And he didn’t, in large part, it appears, due to the players involved.
This is really getting much, much uglier with each passing day. The more specifics that surface, the worse Tressel looks. And the heavier the hammer will likely be once the NCAA renders the final verdict.