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Thread: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

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    Default Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    Tressel is going to have a tough time surviving this.
    Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe
    Tressel accused of dishonesty for hiding violations
    Monday, April 25, 2011 09:25 AM
    Updated: Monday, April 25, 2011 11:35 AM
    By Randy Ludlow, Mike Wagner and Jill Riepenhoff

    The Columbus Dispatch

    Buckeye Back Talk
    Do you think Ohio State will be stripped of any victories from the 2010 football season?
    Don't Care

    NCAA documents
    (.pdf format)
    Notice of allegations
    Letter to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee
    Facts, figures
    Here are the bottom-line numbers on the transactions between one former and six current Ohio State University football players and Columbus tattoo-parlor owner Edward Rife. Ohio State redacted the names of the players, citing federal student privacy laws.

    $9,480: Cash players received for selling awards and equipment.
    $555: Value of two free tattoos and discounts on 11 other tattoos.
    $2,420: Discount on used vehicle a player bought from Rife.
    $800: Loan the same player received from Rife for vehicle repairs.
    $100: Fee a player received for obtaining team autographs on two replica helmets owned by Rife.
    Total: $13,355
    Player A: Sold Big Ten championship ring for $1,000 (April 2009).
    Player B: Sold national championship game jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and received two free tattoos valued at $150 (summer 2009).
    Player C: Sold Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and received $50 discount on one tattoo (June 2009).
    Player D: Sold Big Ten championship ring, "Gold Pants" award and (a redacted item) for $2,500 (May/June 2009).
    Player E: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,000), "Gold Pants" award ($350) for $1,350 and received $155 discount on five tattoos. (February to November 2009).
    Player F: Received $150 discount on three tattoos (summer 2009).
    Player G: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,500), two "Gold Pants" awards ($250 each), helmet ($150) and pants ($30) from Michigan game and Rose Bowl watch ($250) for $2,430. Received $55 discount on two tattoos. Paid $100 to obtain team autographs on two helmets. Received $2,420 discount on purchase of used vehicle and $800 loan for vehicle repairs. (November 2008 to May 2010).
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    Ohio State University is potentially facing the most severe NCAA penalties to its storied football program as punishment for coach Jim Tressel's failure to disclose his knowledge of violations and use of ineligible players during this past season.

    In a "notice of allegations" given to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee on Friday and obtained by The Dispatch, the NCAA accused Tressel of dishonesty for hiding violations by seven current and former players who sold awards and equipment to a tattoo-parlor owner.

    Ohio State, however, was not cited for "failure to monitor" or "failure of institutional control" violations, which would likely lead to the harshest of penalties. Such penalties are typically imposed when a university's compliance program is weak.

    "That was very significant," a source close to the investigation told The Dispatch today.

    Ohio State released this statement today: "The allegations are largely consistent with what the university self-reported to the NCAA on March 8. ... The university will continue to work cooperatively with the NCAA during the response phase to the NCAA that now begins, and will have no further comment until the process is completed."

    The best-case scenario for Ohio State is the NCAA accepting the university's self-imposed sanctions on Tressel, which include a $250,000 fine and five-game suspension. The worst-case scenario is a range of sanctions that could prevent the Buckeyes from playing in the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game next season and strip OSU of last year's victories and Big Ten title.

    Ironically, Ohio State's Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas in January would stand because the NCAA had restored the eligibility of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and five others who sold memorabilia.

    The NCAA warned that it could treat Ohio State as a repeat offender stemming from the violations involving former quarterback Troy Smith, who took $500 from a booster and former men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien, who gave $6,000 to a recruit.

    That finding is the most ****ing and potentially most damaging because repeat offenders face post-season bans, the entire coaching staff could be suspended and the school could lose scholarships, according to NCAA rules.

    "It was reported that Jim Tressel, head football coach, failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics and violated ethical-conduct legislation," the 13-page NCAA document says.

    The NCAA notice of allegations is the document that spells out the charges against the university. It lists what violations the NCAA has found in its initial investigation and seeks additional information from the university.

    In this case, the NCAA wants Ohio State to explain, among other things, the school's ties to Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero, who sent the first email to Tressel alerting him of player involvement with the tattoo parlor operator, and with Ted Sarniak, a Jeannette, Pa., businessman and mentor to Pryor.

    The NCAA also wants a copy of the Dec. 7 letter sent to Ohio State from the U.S. Department of Justice reporting it had seized OSU memorabilia in a drug investigation. That letter triggered the university's investigation into the matter and ultimately the discovery on Jan. 23 that Tressel knew of violations involving his players.

    The NCAA alleges that:

    >> Tressel was guilty of ethical misconduct when he knowingly provided false information to the NCAA in certifying that he knew of no potential violations by his players and failed to inform OSU officials.

    >> Ohio State fielded ineligible players last season when starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and others competed despite Tressel's knowledge of their misconduct. NCAA bylaws call for immediate suspensions.

    The NCAA said that Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas and Jordan Whiting will not face further punishment. They have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.

    The NCAA letter details what those five current players and one former player did: Improperly sold Big Ten championship rings, "gold pants" charms from Michigan wins, game-worn equipment and other items to tattoo-parlor owner Ed Rife for $9,480.

    Players, whose names were redacted by Ohio State citing a federal privacy law, also received 13 free or discounted tattoos. In addition, one player received a $2,420 discount toward the purchase of a used vehicle from Rife, as well as an $800 loan for vehicle repairs, the NCAA reported.

    Tressel knew that at least two players were selling memorabilia or football awards to Rife. Those transactions made the players ineligible to compete under NCAA rules, the letter states.

    However, Tressel never reported the violations to OSU officials and certified to the NCAA he was unaware of any potential problems.

    Tressel said he never informed his Ohio State superiors of the misconduct by his players because he feared for their safety amid an April 2, 2010 e-mail from Cicero reporting that they were selling memorabilia a tattoo parlor under investigation for suspected drug dealing. Rife has not been charged with any crime related to these incidents.

    Tressel also said that Cicero requested that the information be kept confidential and the coach said he did not want to take any action that might interfere with the federal investigation. The suspect has not been charged with any offense.

    The allegation that Tressel lied to the NCAA is significant. Since 2006, the NCAA has sanctioned 28 schools for violating the ethics bylaw that Tressel did. Of the 13 head coaches involved, only one kept her job. The others either resigned or were fired by their schools.

    Since 2004, four universities that are part of the Football Bowl Championship division were penalized by the NCAA for allowing ineligible players to participate in games and for being repeat offenders.

    Alabama (football), South Alabama (men's tennis), Arkansas (track) and Southern California (football) each had to vacate all victories in which the ineligible athletes competed. All were placed on probation, but only Southern California was banned from post-season competition.

    Tressel, Gee, athletic director Gene Smith and others are being asked to meet with the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12 in Indianapolis. At the hearing, OSU will answer questions and explain itself. At some point after that, the NCAA will rule on the ultimate punishment.

    In addition to stripping Ohio State of its wins from 2010, NCAA rules allow the organization to reduce the number of football scholarships OSU can award and forbid Ohio State from participating in any Big Ten championship game or post-season bowl game.
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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    The Michigan fan in me wants to....

    Like Chris Speilman said... At this point it doesn't really matter what Tressel intentions were (he said to protect the players and the federal investigation) rules were broken. Ohio State must take their punishment. All Tressel had to do was walk 10 steps down the hall and turn the e-mails over to the "Compliency Office" but he didn't.

    I also heard that since Ohio State's Athletic Department was already on probation for basketball infractions... the NCAA punishment could be even harsher. Ultimately AD Gene Smith might be the fall guy! That would be amazing! But, I doubt if it happens.

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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    Rules were broken and he lied and covered it up. ****er should be suspended for the year. Actually if they had any balls he'd be fired.

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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    More memorabilia exchanged than previously disclosed
    Thursday, April 28, 2011 10:36 AM
    By Jill Riepenhoff and Mike Wagner
    The Columbus Dispatch

    Transactions between Ohio State football players and a tattoo-parlor owner are far more extensive than previously made public by OSU officials.

    A letter sent by the U.S. Department of Justice on Dec. 7, which was obtained by The Dispatch today, shows that suspected drug dealer Ed Rife bought or traded for tattoos 36 different football-related items since 2008.

    However, only some of the transactions were considered violations by the NCAA, which suspended five players for five games of the 2011 season for improper benefits and preferential treatment.

    "There may be items in this letter that do not constitute NCAA violations," OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said this morning in explaining why all the items were not previously disclosed. "The NCAA had this exact list as they prepared their notice of allegations."

    In the letter, the Justice Department said, "There is no allegation that any of these players were involved in or had knowledge of Mr. Rife's drug-trafficking activities."

    On Monday, Ohio State made public the NCAA charges against coach Jim Tressel, who knew since last spring about his players selling memorabilia and getting deals on tattoos but failed to report the violations to his bosses or the NCAA.

    The NCAA considers the case against the players closed unless new information is discovered. The case against Tressel, however, is ongoing.

    In the notice of allegations delivered to Ohio State Friday, the NCAA listed 14 different items that quarterback Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Daniel Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas sold or traded to Rife, the West Side tattoo-parlor owner who is the focus of an ongoing federal drug investigation.

    Those items included five Big Ten championship rings, three "gold pants" awards, two pairs of pants, a watch, a helmet, a jersey and a pair of cleats.

    The Justice Department said in its Dec. 7 letter that it intended to sell the property it confiscated in the May 1 raid at Rife's house.

    "We want to make certain that neither The Ohio State University nor the players involved claim any ownership interest in the items being seized," the letter said.

    The letter included seven pages of OSU-related memorabilia taken from Rife's house. Several items he purchased on ebay such as a 2003 National Championship ring that he bought for $7,000.

    Rife also received six items as gifts from current football players whose names were blacked out by Ohio State citing the federal student-privacy law. Those items included shoes, a Rose Bowl plaque, a helmet, and other memorabilia.

    NCAA rules do not prohibit athletes from giving away memorabilia.

    One player gave Rife four passes to the 2010 Rose Bowl and his watch in exchange for a 2003 Tahoe, which Rife purchased for $3,500.

    Other memorabilia listed in the letter that was not mentioned in the NCAA's notice of allegations include a 2008 national championship ring; several game jerseys that were autographed; and pants worn during a Fiesta Bowl.

    The financial transactions between Rife and the players total more than $14,000. The largest cash deal involved a 2008 championship ring he bought for $1,500.

    In exchange for game-worn gloves, he gave the players free tattoos.
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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    Jim Tressel is a great college football coach. That's undeniable.

    He also knowingly jeopardized the past, present, and future fortunes of the program he's in charge of. That's undeniable as well.

    That statement number one is true doesn't make statement number two excusable.

    I get wanting him to be the coach, because he's a good one.

    I don't get the excuse-making for him coming from OSU fans (I hear alot living in Cincy)...


    "Jim Tressel is toast. And he should be. He is the worst of the worst: A hypocrite who pretended to be a man of values, taking the moral high road, when all the time he was slithering down slimy street.

    This is going to end very badly for Ohio State, and keeping Tressel around will do the university no good in trying to make nice with the NCAA police.

    Ohio State should have bounced him a long time ago."

    -- Orlando Sentinel
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Ohio State football: NCAA penalties could be severe

    More Trouble for OSU???

    Ohio State to investigate players' car deals

    Saturday, May 7, 2011 03:07 AM
    By Jill Riepenhoff, Mike Wagner and Randy Ludlow

    Ohio State University's chief enforcer of NCAA rules said yesterday that he will investigate used-car purchases made by dozens of OSU athletes at two Columbus car dealers to see if any sale violated collegiate rules.

    The investigation was initiated after The Dispatch found in public records that at least eight Ohio State athletes and 11 athletes' relatives bought used cars from Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct during the past five years. The investigation will involve outside experts and examine at least 50 sales, focusing on whether the athletes received improper benefits.

    The common thread in those two dozen transactions was the salesman: Aaron Kniffin, who has worked at both dealerships.

    "We'll take a step back, we'll take a look at the transactions and the values, and we'll make some determinations in consultation with the (Big Ten) conference office and go from there," said Doug Archie, associate athletic director and head of compliance at OSU.

    "I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," he said.

    NCAA rules don't prohibit athletes from shopping at the same stores, eating at the same restaurants or buying cars at the same dealerships. The rules prohibit athletes and their relatives from receiving discounts that are not offered to the general public.

    In a joint interview with Archie yesterday, Jack Maxton owner Jeff Mauk and Auto Direct owner Jason Goss both said they never have given athletes special deals.

    Mauk estimated that 40 to 50 Buckeyes bought cars from his dealership in the past five or six years .

    Archie said that he was aware of all the transactions involving the athletes that The Dispatch found, but he was unaware of purchases made by their relatives.

    Both dealers, whose businesses are not connected, say they routinely call Archie's office when an athlete is ready to buy a car, provide the purchase price and discuss who will co-sign on a loan. Archie said he relies on the car dealers to provide accurate information.

    "I'm not a car expert. We have to rely on their integrity and their word when it comes to selling a car," he said. Ohio State runs "spot checks" on some transactions against the Kelley Blue Book value.

    Archie said that he'd rather one or two dealerships didn't receive all the OSU business. "It's something from a compliance perspective that I would rather not have," he said.

    Goss and Kniffin both have attended seven football games as guests of players, including the 2007 national championship and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. At some point after 2008, Archie barred Kniffin from the players' pass list because OSU rules prohibit athletes from inviting people with whom they do business.

    Goss said he received his passes from athletes who never bought cars from him.

    Kniffin told The Dispatch that he has sold cars to at least four dozen OSU athletes and their relatives, that the OSU compliance staff directed them to him, and that university officials reviewed all documents before sales were final.

    Archie said that he has spoken to Kniffin only once, never reviews sales documents and has not directed players to any dealerships.

    All but one athlete and all of the relatives could not be reached for comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

    The purchases reviewed by The Dispatch were made when Kniffin worked at Maxton between 2004 and 2009 and then at Auto Direct between 2009 and 2010.

    Public records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.

    Mauk could not explain it. "I don't give cars for free," he said. Gibson said he was unaware the title on his car showed zero as the sales price. "I paid for the car, and I'm still paying for it," he said, declining to answer further questions.

    The cars involved sold for the average price of $11,600. Most vehicles were Chevrolets, Buicks or Dodges manufactured between 2000 and 2007. More than half had less than 50,000 miles when sold by Kniffin. Six cars had more than 100,000 miles.

    Legally, dealers can sell cars at whatever price they want and are not bound by NCAA rules.

    The Dispatch reviewed sales prices from Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records of the 24 car transactions. The records detail the year, make, model and mileage.

    Officials at two national car-valuation companies - National Automobile Dealers Association and Kelley Blue Book - were asked by The Dispatch to estimate the value of the cars at the time of purchase. The values they estimated were higher than the price paid in nearly half of the transactions. However, they said it's difficult to accurately evaluate the sales without seeing the vehicles to assess condition and options.

    "No one can tell you what a car's worth," Goss said.

    Goss said that the athletes and relatives found his dealership because he sells good cars at good prices. "I know how to buy cars right," he said, noting that he buys cars and acquires trade-ins at low prices, permitting him to sell cars well below retail.

    Two former NCAA enforcement officials, who spoke to The Dispatch on the condition of anonymity, individually said there's cause for concern.

    The two collectively have decades of NCAA compliance experience. Neither had ever heard of so many athletes buying cars from the same salesman.

    Car ownership among athletes has been a recurring issue at Ohio State dating back to Maurice Clarett in 2003 and extending to the current NCAA investigation of OSU memorabilia sales in which, among other things, one player traded Rose Bowl watches for a vehicle. Four of the six players suspended for selling items for tattoos - or their relatives - also bought cars from the dealers.

    The Dispatch began looking at car ownership after Kniffin's name showed up on the players' guest list for three football games in 2007.

    By then, Kniffin, who was working for Maxton, had sold cars to football players Gibson, Chris "Beanie" Wells and Maurice Wells while they were still in school. The mothers of both Wells' also bought cars. At the time, Beanie's mom lived in Akron and Maurice's lived in Maryland.

    While employed there, Kniffin also sold cars to football players Robert Rose, Doug Worthington and Solomon Thomas. He also sold cars to Kurt Coleman's brother, Robert Rose's father and Ray Small's father.

    While at Auto Direct, a used-car dealership at 2300 E. Dublin-Granville Rd., he sold to wide receiver DeVier Posey and basketball player William Buford. Relatives who bought cars from Kniffin include Pryor's mother and brother, Daniel "Boom" Herron's father, basketball player Jon Diebler's parents and Solomon Thomas' father.

    Kniffin also loaned cars to quarterback Terrelle Pryor, including his own for a three-day test drive to Pennsylvania, where Pryor lives.

    Kniffin, 42, who is now selling cars in an undisclosed state, vividly recalled details of the cars sold. He disputed, however, the sales prices that were listed on state motor-vehicle records.

    "The sales price is much more than that," he said. "You are so far away from what the transactions are all about."

    Ohio law requires dealers to report accurate information about all car sales for tax purposes. Failure to submit accurate information is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

    Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Registrar Mike Rankin said the agency would investigate the transactions amid Kniffin's statement that the figures listed on titles were less than the true sale prices. Rankin likewise was puzzled by Gibson's title reflecting a loan but no sales price.

    "There are clearly some issues that are problematic. It's worth seeing if there are any dealer improprieties," Rankin said.

    Goss disputed Kniffin's assertion that vehicles were sold to OSU players at prices higher than listed on the titles. "Titles reflect sales prices."

    Auto Direct's showroom is filled with autographed jerseys from former and current players who have purchased cars from Kniffin.

    Goss, who said he is a big Buckeyes fan, said he received no memorabilia from players, who autographed jerseys he had purchased while buying their cars.

    Kniffin, who said he is not an OSU fan, has had financial problems since 2006. He now owes more than $130,000 to the IRS, and his $570,000 Delaware County home is in foreclosure.

    At least six major athletic programs have faced NCAA sanctions since 1990 because their athletes had free use of cars or received suspect deals on purchases: Arizona State (2005), Illinois (1990 and 2005), Minnesota (2000), Louisville (1996), Michigan State (1996), and Southern California (2010).

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