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College Sports, Education

NCAA Notice of Allegations to Ohio State and Tressel: Initial Analysis

As was reported on this blog and acknowledged by Ohio State University (OSU), in a letter dated April 21, 2011, OSU received a notice of allegations from the NCAA enforcement staff concerning the alleged NCAA rules-violations involving head football coach Jim Tressel and several football student-athletes. The NCAA enforcement staff alleged Tressel failed to report information regarding the improper actions of several football student-athletes that occurred during the spring 2010 period. The media reported (and the NCAA alleges) seven student-athletes were found to have sold memorabilia, including rings, apparel and awards, to a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor and received discounts for services. Five of the seven were returning athletes, which included star quarterback Terrell Pryor. Tressel and the five student-athletes will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.

After reviewing the notice of allegations, I have the following initial observations:

1. For a reason only the enforcement staff can explain, the NCAA did not include a failure to monitor (Bylaw 11.1.2.1) allegation against Tressel. This is good news for Tressel and Ohio State. However, this is inconsistent with the standard the staff used to allege a failure to monitor against former University of Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez last year. In fact, the evidence in the Michigan case indicated Rodriguez did not have actual or direct knowledge of the violations while Tressel possessed actual knowledge of his athletes’ transgressions, but failed to report the rules-violations to the institution or NCAA.
2. The Committee on Infractions could elect to vacate the contests in which the five returning student-athletes participated in during OSU’s 2010 regular season. [The bowl game would not be included since the young men’s eligibility was reinstated by the NCAA in December.]
3. OSU is a repeat offender and is eligible to receive enhanced sanctions. However, case-precedent does not indicate the institution will receive repeat violator penalties.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

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