Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel may face further sanctions from the National Collegiate Athletic Association after being suspended and fined by the school for failing to disclose that players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor had violated eligibility rules.
Tressel will sit out the Buckeyes’ first two games of the 2011 season and pay a $250,000 fine for failing to tell school officials what he knew.
“I’m disappointed that this happened,” Tressel said at a news conference last night at the Jack Nicklaus Museum on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down.”
Tressel found out eight months before the university said it was informed of the infractions that Pryor and five teammates were selling memorabilia to Edward Rife, the owner of a tattoo parlor in Columbus, Yahoo Sports reported. The university and the NCAA began investigating the case in December, when Ohio State officials said the U.S. attorney’s office informed them of the sales.
The NCAA announced on Dec. 23 that it had suspended Pryor, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas for the first five games of the 2011 season. Linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended for the first game of next season.
All six were allowed to play in the Buckeyes’ 31-26 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl in January.
Tressel may still face an NCAA investigation into whether he violated rules on ethical conduct and promoting an atmosphere of compliance if he’s found to have deliberately withheld information he received in April, Yahoo Sports reported. An e-mail to the NCAA’s media office last night was not immediately answered.
Tressel will miss home games against the University of Akron and the University of Toledo on Sept. 3 and 10. The five suspended players will also sit out a Sept. 17 visit to Miami University and home games against the University of Colorado and Michigan State University on Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.
Tressel’s offense didn’t merit dismissal, Buckeyes Athletic Director Gene Smith said at yesterday’s news conference.
“Wherever we end up, at the end of the day Jim Tressel is our football coach,” Smith said. “We support him 100 percent. He’s our coach and we trust him implicitly.”
Tressel, 58, is 106-22 in 10 years as coach of the Buckeyes. He led the team to a national title after an undefeated 2002 season and two other times to the championship game.