Jim Tressel As Todd McNair Comment Count

Brian April 29th, 2011 at 2:22 PM

So as I'm reading the DocSat article on Todd McNair's appeal being shot down I come across the words "knew or should have known," which immediately bring to mind another recent NCAA document:


A couple months ago everyone was comparing Tressel to Bruce Pearl but there's a big gap between what those two scofflaws did. In contrast Tressel's violations are almost precisely in line with McNair's. He was hit with The Dread Bylaw 10.1 and got a one-year show cause. His issues:

The assistant football coach had knowledge that student-athlete 1 and agency partners A and B likely were engaged in NCAA violations.

Tressel had similar knowledge.

He was not credible in his denials of knowing agency partner A or in his claimed failure to remember a telephone call between him and agency partner A.

No one is denying it, nor could they given the email trail.

The assistant football coach failed to report information to the compliance staff regarding potential NCAA violations related to the activities of agency partners A and B.

Tressel did this.

He also attested, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations.

During the investigation that eventually led to OSU's five-game suspensions Tressel also did this.

His conduct impeded the institution from fulfilling its responsibilities under NCAA bylaws. His conduct also resulted in findings that he violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation by providing false and misleading information to the enforcement staff as described in Finding B-1-b and that he violated NCAA Bylaw 30.3.5 by signing a document attesting, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations involving the institution.

Tressel also did this. The inescapable conclusion is Tressel will be hit with at least a one-year show-cause penalty, as McNair was.

Show-cause penalties are not all uniform, but McNair was totally prohibited from recruiting on- or off-campus—he was banned from so much as looking at teenagers who had put on shoulder pads—and had to attend a rules seminar. He wasn't totally banned, FWIW, and USC could have hypothetically kept employing him if they were in the business of carrying around RB coaches who couldn't recruit.

Show-cause penalties also don't necessarily mean the coach hit with one will be fired. Wikipedia helpfully points out the case of Rob Senderoff, one of Kelvin Sampson's assistants. Senderoff loved him some impermissible phone calls but by the time the NCAA hit him with a 30-month show-cause penalty he had already been hired at Kent State. Since he was already there KSU did not have to fire him; he's actually their head coach(!) after the current guy left for Bradley. If Tressel's penalty is analogous to McNair's OSU will probably suck it up and try to get through it.

Will it be? McNair's cover-up went on longer and featured a high-profile player but Tressel's eventually preserved the eligibility of six guys, not one, and if the COI is serious about "high profile compliance" being necessary for high profile violators the head coach of one of the most successful programs in the country brazenly flouting NCAA regulations is an acid test.

I won't venture a guess as to what the result of that test will be, but the next couple years will be time for Brady Hoke to make hay in Ohio.


MI Expat NY

April 29th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

Can a school really keep a head coach who can't recruit for a year?  I would think that if Tressel gets the same punishment, he'll resign or be fired.  

One other difference between McNair and Tressel, the evidence against Tressel is much more air-tight.  Against McNair, it was a photo and records of a phone call.  That's nothing compared to the written proof demonstrated by the emails.


April 29th, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

I can see OSU hanging with Tressel through a one year, McNair-like penalty.   He is one of the most successful coaches they've ever had and is highly regarded throughout most of the state for his wins and his off-field behavior (as ironic as an Mgoreader might find that).   I think OSU is prepared to ride out a pretty big storm with him. 

Indiana Blue

April 29th, 2011 at 8:36 PM ^

your opinion on this, echoes what everyone else in the B1G already knows.   There are right ways to run a program and then there are ways to run a program that shows you don't give a shit about whether you are honest or truthful ... just as long as you win !

The head coach lied and cheated (just to win games) and the NCAA is going to come down on him ... but you're going to keep him ??? 

This is a joke and if tressel and tsio get away with this ... the NCAA will simply prove that they have no "balls" to do what is VERY obviously the right thing to do.  I'll bet they even "stretch too long" !!!

Go Blue !


April 29th, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

I would be really suprised if JT survives the summer.  If he does I think I might be glad b/c tOSU will not be running on all cylinders for a few years at least.  There will be a nice dark cloud hanging over the program for some time if he stays at the helm.  If they fire him in the next month or so it would help their image IMO.


April 29th, 2011 at 2:36 PM ^

would actually be accepting of a one year show cause penalty for Tressel, as long as he's not fired. Herbstreit and Spielman have led the way in being actually rational about this.


May 2nd, 2011 at 10:06 AM ^

I'm sad he's still around. As much as I hate the thought of losing a coach like Tressel, his mistake is just too big to overlook. If the university is going to keep him around, I think a one year penalty and vacating 2010 is pretty reasonable. I just really hope this was a one time thing for Tressel and not a pattern that is being uncovered. It's not worth winning if your doing it the wrong way.

Everyone Murders

April 29th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

" If Tressel's penalty is analogous to McNair's OSU will probably suck it up and try to get through it." 

Getting "through it" will be really tough for OSU, for the reasons many commentors posit.  Most importantly, it's tough to be a head coach if you can't communicate with recruits.  Plus it makes a fairly creepy guy seem a tad creepier. 

My suggestion to put would-be recruits and high school coaches on notice of his status is that Tressel be forced to wear a scarlet letter ("L" for liar), but I suppose he'd also have to have a gray one for those times he's sporting the scarlet sweater vest.  Kids need to see that shizz.


April 29th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

I thought Todd McNair was hit with not only the no recruiting penalty, but also could not coach for a year.  If the same holds up for Tressel, how could you retain the guy if he can't coach either?  I'd look it up to be sure about McNair, but I'm trying to finish a take-home exam by 5pm.


April 29th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

Bylaw officionados - is there any difference in the severity and restrictions stemming from the show-cause in this case because McNair/Bush's violation was about recruiting practices?  

Tressel's infractions aren't recruiting-related (tangentially, they involve Pryor's handler), but they are more 'administration of the program' related.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

This is me speaking from hazy memory, but I thought there were at least rumors the benefits were an inducement.  He and his family got some really nice stuff as he went to USC because the agents were in CA and wanted to work with him. 

That might be all unsubstantiated (or since disproven, even) rumor.

MI Expat NY

April 29th, 2011 at 5:00 PM ^

You might be right, but my recollection of the USC violations were essentially that Bush's benefits were so egregious that the school had to know about them and that the environment created around the team (almost unfettered access to the players by celebrities, agents, shady characters, etc.) made the Bush violations an inevitability rather than a possibility.  Even if the money started coming in before Bush got to USC, it wasn't driven by anyone with a  connection to the school.

The only direct connection between the school and Bush's benefits alleged and "proven" by the NCAA, I believe, was McNair's knowledge of the benefits paid by the would-be agent.

If I'm correct, what you have are two situations that are identical when broken down to its most basic units: Player(s) received extra benefits from someone not connected to the school, Coach knew about extra benefits and did not notify compliance staff, coach then hid knowledge and explicitly denied knowledge to the NCAA.  The only difference is that McNair maintained his innocence all the way through, while Tressel really didn't have that option.


April 29th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

Good summary.

I think one additional difference is that USC AD Mike Garrett fought and stonewalled the NCAA every step of the way.   OSU is relying on its cooperation with the NCAA to result in lesser penalties than what USC received.

I think OSU will get off a lot easier than USC did, though Tressel might not get off too much easier than McNair.

MI Expat NY

April 29th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

100% agree, I should have made it more clear that I was only comparing McNair's and Tressel's actions.  

As much as I'd love for OSU's punishment to be the same as USC's, the allegations and actions of the respective athletic departments are by no measure in the same realm.  

I could make an argument that Tressel should get off lighter, face the same punishment, or face more severe punishment.  On the one hand, the player conduct was not nearly as egregious.  Bush's career ends if McNair reports what he knows, while the "Tat-5" face a 4-5 game suspension.  On the other hand, Tressel is the head guy.  He's in charge of compliance for his entire staff, arguably, his actions should have more severe consequences.  


April 30th, 2011 at 12:08 AM ^

Tressel's actions deserve more severe consequences as he played the tat 5 throughout the season despite his clear awareness that they all would have most assuredly been declared ineligible had he done the right thing and reported them to compliance. To the NCAA this has to look like the worst sort of coaching opportunism. The Delany/TSIO bowl eligibility fiasco in December won't help much (it won't be evidenciary but it would have to color the ncaa's view).


April 29th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

So far, OSU has done a decent job of keeping all the clouds isolated over Tressel.  I don't anticipate any major penalties for OSU, such as a bowl ban.  It would be highly unusual given the lack of even a  "failure to monitor" charge in the NOA.

I also think Tressel will be employed this season (whether he's actually allowed to coach is another question).  The summer isn't a great time to find a new coach.  The AD will be on the lookout for a coach in the fall (Gruden, Meyer, Pellini ... the usual suspects) and Tressel will likely be nudged out (gently or not so gently) in December, in time to give the new coach an opportunity to salvage recruiting.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

1. Tress only ever had knowledge of Pryor and Posey, apparently, and not anyone else, unless they told him and he didn't report that.

2. McNair kept denying he ever had knowledge or should have had knowledge right up through the interview with the NCAA.

3. McNair had no mitigating factors on his side for his behavior.  It was clear he was turning a blind eye.  Tress did not turn a blind eye; he apparently took a lot of steps to stop the behavior and his "crime" was not reporting them as ineligible then not saying he knew about.  Further, McNair had no federal investigation or vague threats against his players that he could use as an excuse. 

4. I think Tress is weakest on his lying, as there isn't much excuse for that except he didn't want to throw Cicero under the bus (as reporting your clients's words to a football coach is not particularly ehtical).  Further, lying didn't help anyone do anything.  He has some strong excuses for why he didn't report the behavior and whatnot.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

1. Tressel played two players in every game last year despite knowing that they had taken actions that rendered them ineligible.

2. Tressel lied until documents turned up and he couldn't lie any more. It's not like he had a come to Jesus moment and fessed up on his own. If he hadn't gotten caught, he still would be lying about it.

3. If this isn't a blind eye, what is? Tressel knew what happened and didn't punish the behavior. The federal investigation/player safety excuse is a dodge. The first notification from Cicero didn't ask for any kind of confidentiality. There was nothing in the first email he got to indicate the players were in any danger.

4. Cicero's ethics are beside the point. Tressel had a contractual obligation to report what he knew. I hope more about Cicero's relationship comes out though, I'm interested to knwo what exactly Tressel meant when he said Cicero "looks out" for the program.


April 29th, 2011 at 3:43 PM ^

Since this whole thing broke my assumption had been that Tressel would last through the season and then resign. He has said that he doesn't plan on coaching that much longer, and this seems like a fairly strong signal that his time is up. The least we can do is beat him one more time to make his exit a truly sweet one.

I also expect OSU to be hit with scholarship losses (probably 5 for the 5 players involved), have all their 2010 wins stricken from the record, and a one year bowl ban. Nothing has changed these assumptions of mine since this really broke open in March.

MI Expat NY

April 29th, 2011 at 5:13 PM ^

What was the false information?  I mean, the reasoning at the time rang a little hollow (players just wanted to help their families during tough economic times, compliance didn't explicitly tell them it was a violation, etc.).  But does Tressel knowing in advance make any of those statements any less true?  If Tressel admits right then that he knew about it before the season starts, do the players get suspended for longer?  

I get that the NCAA probably wouldn't have allowed them to play in a bowl game if they had known that the players should have been suspended to start the season.  But I don't think the NCAA is going to retroactively change their eligibility ruling when the information on the players conduct hasn't changed.  

Indiana Blue

April 29th, 2011 at 8:50 PM ^

tressel signed a sworn statement to the NCAA that he was not aware of ANY POTENTIAL violations by ANY players on his football team !  This was signed in December just prior to the bowl season.  He knew they had committed violations 8 months earlier. 

How's that for FALSE information.  

tressel lies and cheats, lies and cheats, and lies and cheats.  His words means abosutely nothing and he has zero credibility.  No one should believe anything he says.  He has fooled everyone ever since Youngstown State and now for the last 10 years at tsio.  

Go Blue !


April 29th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

that the NCAA treats Tressel more strictly based on his position as HC, as opposed to McNair being an assistant. It would make some sense that they would, given the greater responsibility that the HC carries for the program and the influence he has as its representative.

I personally don't see how he survives the year, especially with the OSU administration seemingly setting up a situation where they can sever ties with a potentially less-damaging response by the NCAA (no lack of institutional control and all that).