INDIANAPOLIS – The waiting game begins.
Ohio State representatives and former head football coach Jim Tressel met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Friday morning at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown to answer allegations stemming from a tattoo and memorabilia scandal that cost Tressel his job and persuaded quarterback Terrelle Pryor to leave the school prior to his senior season.
The session began at 8:30 a.m. in the hotel’s Indiana ballroom and ended approximately four hours later. Tressel, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith all released written statements following the meeting, and Smith read his statement in front of reporters without taking questions.
The main piece of news stemming from Smith’s statement was the added forfeiture the university’s share of its Big Ten payment for having played in the Sugar Bowl, a total of $338,811.
“So that you understand, it just made logical sense,” Smith added, going off script. “Since we had student-athletes play in that game and we ultimately vacated that game, it made sense that we would forfeit the dollars or … vacate the enrichment that we ultimately realized from that game.”
Smith added that he came up with the idea to give back the money while meeting with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany at a meeting of Big Ten and Pac-12 athletic directors last week in California.
“We actually came upon this thought and felt like it was appropriate,” Smith said.
Smith’s statement also addressed a recent ESPN report that said the NCAA has told the university it is not finished investigating the football program and there could be further allegations coming. Smith confirmed that the university was aware of a letter that the NCAA enforcement staff sent to the Committee on Infractions nearly a month ago detailing the status of the case.
“At no point in time did we receive – our president or I or anyone at our institution – receive a notice from the NCAA on additional allegations,” Smith said, again going off script. “We’re wrapping up some of the issues that have been raised months ago.”
Ohio State also posted a copy of a letter the NCAA sent to the Committee on Infractions on July 13 that did confirm the investigation into Ohio State is still open. The letter, sent from director of enforcement Stephanie J. Hannah to COI director Shep Cooper, said that the evidence did not warrant pushing back the hearing.
"At this point in the inquiry, the available evidence does not warrant additional allegations;
however, the investigation remains open," Hannah wrote.
In addition, Hannah's letter notes that OSU has been warned that further proven allegations could result in a failure to monitor or lack of institutional control charge.
Tressel’s statement was the shortest of the three. It read:
“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. I have no further statement at this time.”
Gee’s statement said the committee treated the OSU delegation fairly and gave the university “ample time to share” its perspective.
“Throughout, we have been determined to do what is right in responding to the information we discovered. As we move forward, I am committed to ensuring that The Ohio State University is a model for other colleges and universities. Our institution expects nothing less.
In addition to Tressel, Gee, Smith, Ohio State was represented by compliance director Doug Archie and new head football coach Luke Fickell among others. The OSU delegation faced the 10-person committee that included attorneys, college conference officials and university officials from across the country.
The committee will ultimately decide the punishments Ohio State will receive for two major violations listed in a Notice of Allegations the university received in April and amended to include an additional player. The first violation stems from the several members of the 2010 Ohio State football team who received improper benefits – free tattoos and/or money – from Eddie Rife, the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor. The second violation comes from the fact that Tressel did not inform Ohio State or the NCAA about his knowledge of the incident when he first learned of it in April 2010.
Five players were suspended for the first five games of the season stemming from the allegations: quarterback Terrelle Pryor, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas. A sixth, reserve linebacker Jordan Whiting, was suspended for one game, while the additional player must go before the NCAA reinstatement committee.
Tressel was initially suspended for two games and fined once it was learned that he knew of the incident. His suspension was eventually extended to five games before Tressel ultimately resigned on May 30.
Ohio State responded to the NCAA in July, self-imposing two years of probation and vacating the 2010 season, one in which it shared the Big Ten title. The Committee on Infractions could impose additional penalties when its final report is released in eight-to-12 weeks.