As the great Yankee catcher Yogi the Bear once opined, it’s déjà vu all over again.
After Ohio State had slapped itself on the wrist with self-imposed sanctions for the mess ex-head coach Jim Tressel had wrought, many a hope among Buckeye Nation that the NCAA hammer wouldn’t fall on the football program were buoyed when, in response to OSU’s self report, the enforcement staff noted in a letter to the school that no new allegations had been uncovered, and that Tressel was the sole university official responsible for the failure to report potential violations.
While that may ultimately continue to be the case, and the hammer will remain in the tool shed, The Association still has their shovel in hand and reportedly continues to dig in and around Columbus.
Ahead of the school’s appearance in front of the Committee on Infractions this Friday, ESPN.com‘s Pat Forde is reporting that, according to multiple sources, the NCAA notified Ohio State last week via a letter that it is still in the process of investigating “other issues” — i.e. ones that won’t be addressed at the hearing in two days — involving the football program. What those other issues are, however, are unknown at this point in time. Forde does, though, speculate on what the NCAA could still be investigating.
There have been multiple media reports that came out after the school received its notice of allegations on April 25. That notice alleged that then-Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel committed ethical misconduct, among other charges.
Among the reports since then: an ESPN “Outside The Lines” story alleging that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was paid thousands of dollars for signed gear by local memorabilia collector, photographer and Buckeyes fan Dennis Talbott; an “OTL” report about Pryor and other Buckeyes playing free rounds of golf with Talbott at a Columbus-area country club; and a Columbus Dispatch report that scrutinized dozens of automobile sales to Ohio State athletes and family members from a pair of Columbus-area dealerships.
Those media reports could be the subject of the ongoing enforcement investigation. If any of them are verified by NCAA investigators, they could result in additional major allegations against the school.
In addition to what Forde noted, there was also a damning report from Sports Illustrated regarding the football program that was largely debunked by those connected to said program, as well as a report from Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Tressel had been warned about Talbott via email as early as 2007. Additionally, OSU president E. Gordon Gee stated in early June that a “flurry of activity… a lot of additional facts’ led to Tressel’s resignation. Tressel resigned on Memorial Day, nearly a month after OSU received their first Notice of Allegations and over two months after they self-reported the initial Tressel violations to the NCAA.
If the NCAA were to uncover any additional facts in what appears to be a separate investigation — or even if it’s simply an offshoot of the original one — OSU could be faced with a second Notice of Allegations. And another appearance in front of the very committee that will be asked Friday to accept their self-imposed sanctions for the first round of allegations.
Either way, it appears The Ohio State University is quite a ways away from getting the NCAA off its back. And could be setting itself for another COI round, one that could very well include the words “failure to monitor” and “lack of institutional control”.