Yesterday, we continued our blatant anti-Ohio State, anti-Jim Tressel agenda by pointing out that an ex-OSU administrator — and current chair of the NCAA’s Executive Committee — took the Buckeyes head coach to task for concealing information from his bosses at the university, calling the episode “beyond the pale” and “totally unacceptable”.
In a conversation today with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ed Ray didn’t back down from the comments he made to The Oregonian. In fact, he further expounded on the matter and added some additional hammering to the Tressel episode. He also allowed , though, that “mitigating circumstances” could allow for leniency when it comes time for the NCAA to decide on additional sanctions against the coach.
The self-described “hanging judge”, whose “real” job is serving as the president of Oregon State, reiterated that it would be the Infractions Committee, not himself, that would handle the punishment end of the episode. And also reiterates that it’s a good thing he’s not in charge as he considers this matter “very, very serious” and “needs to be dealt with in a very serious way.”
“I am pretty judgmental and pretty hard about these things, if these things have been done,” Ray said. “The context I said it in is that it’s a good thing I’m not on the Infractions Committee. Whenever anyone crosses the line, I tend to be judgmental and hard about it, but it’s a good thing we have a lot of experienced people on the committee to look at it and focus on the facts and do what they believe is right, rather than have me from 2,500 miles away do it. …
“If it is true, it’s very, very serious, and it needs to be dealt with in a very serious way,” Ray said. “We have the Infractions Committee that knows how to weigh and measure the degree of severity. But to purport that somebody knows about improper behavior and doesn’t report it for a period of time and shares it with some people and not other people and doesn’t go through the proper channels, that’s a very serious matter.
“So much of what determines the integrity of the whole system is that people come forward when they know something improper has happened. People make mistakes or they do wrong things, but very often things are self-reported because everyone is trying to get it right. Everyone makes mistakes, but if people aren’t forthright, then the system isn’t going to work.”
When it comes to being forthright, at least in this case, Tressel was far from it. And Ray is being extremely kind in couching the situation with words like “if these things have been done” and “if it’s true”; of course it was done and it’s true. It’s been acknowledged by the school itself that Tressel knew in April 2010 that at least two of his players had likely received impermissible benefits and concealed/lied about/covered-up that information for nine months until OSU discovered the damning emails in January — one month after Ohio State had gone public with suspensions for six of their players.
Ray also knows that Tressel did indeed self-report the potential violations, although he reported them to the 67-year-old handler of star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
As we mentioned, though, Ray intimated that NCAA leniency may be in the offing as well, seemingly based solely on The Vest’s carefully-crafted, squeaky-clean image and the totality of his career. Tressel was described by the former OSU provost and executive vice president as “a terrific person”, who also acknowledged that “[e]verything I know and I have seen that has anything to do with Jim Tressel is incredibly positive.”
So, could all of those positives outweigh the one huge negative?
“I think if someone has a life’s work that says this is wrong and this shouldn’t have happened, but this person is remorseful about that, it’s not a matter of indifference what kind of person they have been for the last 40 or 50 years. In any kind of legal proceeding, that always gets looked at.
“I think you do look at the person you’re looking at and say, ‘Is this part of an ongoing pattern of playing things close to the line and finally getting caught, or is this a person that anyone who ever had anything to do with him said this is a good person who has been a positive force in the community?’ In the normal scheme of things, that does lead to perhaps less of a harsh outcome than if you have the feeling that this is a person who should have gotten caught a long time ago.
In the end, it matters not what I or Ray or anyone else thinks should happen to Tressel. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee.
For Tressel’s sake, he should hope that the leniency Ray alludes to is in that committee’s lexicon.