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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions Releases Report and Sanctions on Ohio State and Tressel

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released the public infractions report in the Ohio State University enforcement case on Tuesday, December 20, 2011. Ohio State was cited for failure to monitor, preferential treatment and extra-benefit violations in its football program. The committee also determined former head football coach Jim Tressel engaged in unethical conduct for not reporting NCAA rule-violations. The committee adopted the institution’s self-imposed penalties and added additional sanctions, including: a one-year postseason ban for the 2012 season; scholarship reductions; disassociation of an involved booster and a former football student-athlete; forfeiture of almost $340,000; a vacation of records; a five-year show-cause order imposed on Tressel (which limits the coach’s athletically-related duties at an NCAA member school).

The Committee on Infractions determined “eight football student-athletes received more than $14,000 in cash payments or preferential treatment from the owner of a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor. In addition to free or discounted tattoos and cash for memorabilia received by these student-athletes, one football student-athlete received a loan and discount on a car.”

The committee also ruled Tressel “concealed these NCAA violations when he was notified of the situation, which led to his unethical conduct finding.” In fact, the committee noted “the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations to institutional officials, the Big Ten Conference or the NCAA”. The committee laid out in great detailed the fact Tressel “had at least four different opportunities to report the information, and his failure to do so led to allowing several football student-athletes to compete while ineligible. Many of these student-athletes were key contributors to the team’s winning 2010 season.”

The Committee on Infractions noted that following the August 12, 2011, hearing, the enforcement staff and Ohio State investigated additional allegations of rules-violations. The supplemental rules-violations involved a booster providing nine football student-athletes with more than $2,400 in payments for work not performed and cash. The enforcement staff charged Ohio State with failing to monitor the booster’s employment of football student-athletes.

The Committee on Infractions report listed the following penalties that were committee-imposed and/or self-imposed:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from December 20, 2011, through December 19, 2014.
  • Postseason ban for the 2012 football season, which includes the conference championship game.
  • Reduction of football scholarships from 85 to 82 for each of the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. [Note: This is an increase from the university’s proposal of five initial scholarships spread over three academic years.]
  • Vacation of all wins for the 2010 football regular season, including the 2010 Big Ten Conference co-championship and participation in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. [Note: Self-imposed.]
  • Forfeiture of $338,811, which is the amount the university received through the Big Ten Conference revenue sharing for its appearance in the bowl game. [Note: Self-imposed.]
  • Five-year show-cause order for the former head coach.
  • Disassociation of the booster for 10 years, including among other conditions, the prohibition of any financial or other support. [Note: Self-imposed.]
  • Disassociation of a former student-athlete for five years, including among other conditions, the prohibition of any financial or other support. [Note: Self-imposed.]

About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

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


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