More info on Tressel regarding the FBI

Submitted by Darth Tressel on March 9th, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Cincinnati radio station 700wlw Bill Cunningham spoke on the air today about sources he has inside OSU and stated that since the FBI was involved with this investigation he (Tressel) was told, not asked that he wasn't able to leak anything out whatsoever on this investigation. Apparently it's supposed to come out in the next few days.

Just to let you know this radio host is typically more political than sports on his show. He's also a lawyer and his wife is a local judge. So he's not a complete idiot. He also rips on OSU every chance he gets which makes me think this could be defnitely be true if he's actually talking about this. I know you all will most likely scream "bogus" on this whole thing but I just thought I would pass it along.




March 9th, 2011 at 1:57 PM ^

But did the FBI tell him after the original email (April 2?) or after the email that said to keep it quiet (April 14?), or in December? Tressel should have followed up with his administration as soon as he responded to the original email if he thought that the information was in any way credible


March 9th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

if the offending email wasn't on the front page with no hint of this 'don't tell anyone because the FBI is involved nonsense.'  Called BS. 


March 9th, 2011 at 2:09 PM ^


Tressel would have said that the FBI told him not to disclose it.  He could have and WOULD have said that last night.  You don't forget to mention exculpatory evidence.


Also, I doubt the NCAA would impose any sanctions if this was true.  But, OSU, working with the NCAA, is imposing a suspension because they are anticipating NCAA sanctions.


Finally, the FBI would have taken action against the attorney who emailed Tressel, would have made Tressel sign a confidentiality agreement.  That agreement would have included a disclosure to OSU (because Tressel has to under his contract).




March 9th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^


Tressel would have said that the FBI told him not to disclose it.  He could have and WOULD have said that last night.  You don't forget to mention exculpatory evidence.


Also, I doubt the NCAA would impose any sanctions if this was true.  But, OSU, working with the NCAA, is imposing a suspension because they are anticipating NCAA sanctions.


Finally, the FBI would have taken action against the attorney who emailed Tressel, would have made Tressel sign a confidentiality agreement.  That agreement would have included a disclosure to OSU (because Tressel has to under his contract).



Darth Tressel

March 9th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

There weren't many specifics given at all except that this all happened extremely fast and the FBI simply couldn't keep up with everything coming out quickly. It was only said that it would be out in the next few days. Just passing it along. I'm off lunch currently and will be back in a few hours if this thread is remotely popular.


"So are you saying that the FBI has his back on this shit. Please tell me this is not what you mean!!"

What was stated is that they will completely go with Tressel's story and say something like "hey, he took the fall for us all this while so we could complete the investigation."


March 9th, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

If that's true (the extremely fast part), it's only relevant to the stuff happening from December onwards.  There was plenty of time in April, when Tressel sat on this info and did NOT give it to the FBI or anyone else, to wish everyone and their families a blessed Easter.  Irrelevant what the FBI told him not to say in the last few months, since all he could have done in that time is disclosed his major violation from early in the year.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

Then I would be apt to report any violations to the NCAA that may jeopardize my $3.8m a year job and hurt the program that I run, just saying. 

And would OSU really fine him $250 large if he was told by the feds not to speak? Doubtful. 


March 9th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

250k is such a joke of an amount anyway. Let's say he makes 3.5 for simplicity. We'll also assume he goes to the BTC and a bowl game, and he only makes half his money for being a game coach. That comes out to him actually getting paid half his salary for coaching against Toledo and Akron, even though he's barred from doing so.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

Hmm, well that would be interesting.  So the FBI knew that Tressel knew?  When did they find out?  That would probably mean that the FBI knows that the random lawyer was leaking information.  What doesn't make sense is that none of that was in the school report of violations.  Also, wouldn't the school not levy any penalties if he was asked to cooperate by the FBI?  None of that was mentioned at all by the school's report.

Bonus: none of that also excuses him not sitting the players mentioned in the e-mails who he knew to be ineligable.  That's the second issue besides the not reporting and lying/cover-up thing.  He knowingly played ineligable players.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

He absolutely could still have brought this to OSU's counsel's attention. The FBI cannot prevent you from seeking legal counsel after being contacted. This would change nothing, especially considering he still played four starters (and a contributor) who he had very serious eligibility doubts about.

Tressel is a liar and a cheater.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

that explains... up to the raid on the guy's house. not all the time after. nor the claim in december that he just found out.

thanks for playing Columbus


March 9th, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

I was actually very surprised at the lack of OSU support in Cincinnati as opposed to the rest of the state. From what I've seen it's rampant in Akron, Cleveland, obviously Columbus, and half of Toledo. Not sure what this is commenting on, but I thought it was very different.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

Lot of Catholics in greater Cincy area equals a lot of Domers.  They send a lot of players to ND (not as many as OSU, but still a significant fraction).  They entertained dreams of UC rivaling Ohio State when Kelly was coaching there.  Now they're just another Big East school with nothing to show for it.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

True story on the Catholics, my girlfriend attended a Catholic school in downtown Cincinnati and all she talks about are other Catholic schools, which leads me to believe there are a bunch. I never ventured more than a few miles off UC's campus, but even at the Buffalo Wild Wings I was cheering openly for Michigan hockey vs OSU and nobody even gave it a second look.

Had I been at the bff's in Akron I would have been slaughtered.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

A lot of (older) people there are fans of the U. of Cincinnati going all the way back to the days when Oscar Robertson's Bearcats were playing Jerry Lucas's OSU teams back-to-back years in the NCAA finals. 

In addition to Bearcat and ND fans, there are also a decent amount of Kentucky fans in Cincinnati, both b/c of the basketball team's success and simply because a lot of people in Cincinnati are from Kentucky. 

My understanding is that the Cincinnati Inquirer doesn't even have an OSU beat writer. 


March 9th, 2011 at 2:16 PM ^

That's a nonsensical rationalization. Tressel was contractually (and ethically) bound to disclose such business to his superiors. To keep it to himself put everyone -- himself, the players, the school -- in an untenable and legally dubious position. Vest's obligation was not to the FBI, which had no domain over him. By all rights, the matter should have been referred to Gee, who then could have worked with the FBI. This would have been standard operating procedure for everyone.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

That doesn't make any sense.  If it were true, then the university would have had a much easier press conference:

-We understand that it would otherwise be improper to sit on this information, but Coach Tressel was acting under orders of the federal government.  Period.

Instead, they said nothing of the sort and Tressel's avalance of lies ensued.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

I find it equally disturbing that someone who was presumably a government attorney was willing to jeapardize a criminal investigation to help out a football team.  I'm not clear on the timeline, did those e-mail happend before the FBI raided the tattoo parlor and brought their investigation out in the open?


March 9th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

This is a test of our faith as Michigan fans and fans of fair intercollegiate athletics in general.  If we, collectively, are of good heart, pay our taxes, give credit where credit is due, and don't commit any NCAA violations, then justice will be served and the evil ones will be punished.  If we are not a good people, then the results will be different.  Hold the line and pray for the proper order of the universe to re-assert itself.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:19 PM ^

"Cincinnati radio station 700wlw Bill Cunningham spoke on the air today about sources he has inside OSU and stated that since the FBI was involved with this investigation he (Tressel) was told, not asked that he wasn't able to leak anything out whatsoever on this investigation. Apparently it's supposed to come out in the next few days. ""


On second view....WE ALREADY KNOW THIS.

It is not thread worthy.

We know the lawyer who emailed Tressel said in his sceond email that it should be confidential.  We know the FBI was involved.


This doesn't say that the FBI told tressel not to talk.  Just the emailer. 


This lawyer had no authority to tell tressel that because he was leaking it in the first place.  The lawyer may have told Tress to keep it confidential, but that is about as important as me telling you to keep this post confidential.


Please delete this VERY MISLEADING thread.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:23 PM ^

Actually, after re-reading this, you are correct.  The e-mails themselves actually told Tressel that it was confidential at one time.  I would like to have heard exactly what the radio personality said word for word, be cause this paraphrasing is very ambiguous.  Was it the the lawyer, the FBI, or perhaps someone in the athletic department that told me he wasn't to say anything?  I'm guessing what the school released is what happened.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:18 PM ^

He Still could have told legal counsel, as stated above, and I'm pretty sure it would have come out or he would have had a 'statement' to read about the situation.  Also - He could have suspended his players for 'violating team rules', etc etc etc BS


March 9th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

The FBI tells JT (but not the AD or President) not to talk, even to the NCAA because they are investigating Eddie.

Fine, let's believe this. How is this related to the email from "anonymous attorney"? Did the FBI tap that attorney's email account, notice JT received it and then run over to OSU and tell JT and only JT to keep quiet for the sake of the FBI?

If so, fine. Then how why didn't JT just sit his 5 players for 1 cupcake game for an undisclosed rules violation? Why lie to the NCAA 2 times and not say this FBI thing in the press conference? It doesn't add up at all.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:30 PM ^

1. Why wouldn't Tressel seek legal counsel on the matter if this were the case?

2a. Why wouldn't OSU say that the FBI told Tressel to keep quiet on this matter?

2b. Why didn't Tressel say anything about this?

3a. Why would OSU be fining and suspending Tressel if he was doing what he was told to do by the FBI?

3b. Why hasn't there been any record of Tressel's communications with the FBI released?

4. What grounds did the FBI have to tell Tressel not to talk to anyone at the OSU AD or NCAA about this?

5. Why does the FBI need a few days to get Tressel's back on this? All they need to do is say something along the lines of, "Yes, we told him that he should keep quiet about an ongoing investigation and are grateful for his cooperation."

6. How did a radio personality get this information when literally nobody else heard anything about this despite the Tressel scandal being biggest collegiate sports story in the country?

Some of these questions have semi-plausible answers. Others do not. Regardless, as a whole, this stretches well outside the realm of plausibility.


March 9th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^


1.  How come the tOSU Athletic Department blacking out (i.e., concealing) the name of Tressel’s email pen pal?  What part of the Ohio Freedom of Information Act, (assuming there is one) lets them change a document that way?

2.  Who is the attorney who contacted Tressel last April?  Whatever credibility Tressel’s defense explanation excuse evasion deserves turns on the answer to that question

Tressel and Gee would have the world think this mystery attorney was working for the US Attorney or the FBI or some law enforcement agency and that is why Tressel had to respect the attorney’s request for confidentiality.


There is nothing in the emails to suggest this attorney was anything other than a jock sniffing tOSU booster looking to ingratiate himself with Tressel and the program.  What is worse is there is reason to believe from the emails that this attorney may actually have violated client confidentiality when he notified Tressel. 

1.  In the first email, (4/2/10 at 232 pm). Tressel’s pen pal attorney never tells Tressel that he (the pen pal) is associated with law enforcement himself. He just tells Tressel that “a lot of my friends are in law enforcement”.  Supposedly, in the best case for Tressel, that somehow obligated Tressel to sit on the attorney’s disclosure.  Huh?!? The attorney does not even make any confidentiality request in this letter.

2. The second email (4/16/10 at 943 am) comes two weeks later and is even more damning for Tressel.  Attorney Penpal tells Tressel that Mr. Tatoo (Eddie Rife) was in the attorney’s office the night before spilling his guts to Penpal about facts that clearly establish Tressel’s players were violating NCAA rules. Attorney Penpal even tells Tressel he will try to get back the tOSU paraphernalia the gov’t took from Rife. (Though who he is getting the memorabilia back for – Rife or someone else -- is not clear.)  Penpal then goes on to tell Tressel that he (Penpal) knows the people in the District Attorney’s office who are working on this pretty well.

3. The third email (4/16/10 at 224 pm) seems pretty clear that Rife was talking to Attorney Penpal seeking legal advice. (“He wanted my opinion yesterday on his situation.”)

Whoa.  That takes care of Attorney Penpal being a lawyer for law enforcement or the Feds.

He ain’t.

And it sure sounds like Rife was consulting with Attorney Penpal seeking legal advice about a legal matter.  Otherwise, why is Rife spilling to Attorney Penpal? 

But the much more serious question is, why is Attorney Penpal spilling what Rife just told him to Tressel?   Tressel is not Attorney Penpal’s client.  (If Attorney Penpal were Tressel’s lawyer there would be a privilege for the emails he sent and they would never have seen the light of day.)

It sure looks as though at some point Rife became Attorney Penpal’s client and, if so, it sure looks like Attorney Penpal put his loyalty to tOSU football and Tressel before his duty to his client.  That could get his law license yanked.


There in a nutshell is the real explanation for why Attorney Penpal asked Tressel to keep it confidential. Attorney Penpal wants to dish about his client to Tressel, because that’s what jock sniffing boosters do, but he also did not want anybody to know he's dishing to Tressel about what Rife, his client, is telling him.  Doing that could get his license revoked.  So, Attorney Penpal asks Tressel to … keep confidential the facts showing his breach of attorney client privilege. 

And Tressel was only too happy to oblige. 


March 9th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

He clearly is at least one of Rife's attorneys.  He says in one of the emails that he met with Rife for an hour and a half.  He says that Rife sought his opinion on the situation.  He also says that Rife told him various facts about the investigation.   

I suppose it's possible that Rife gave him permission to release the information to Tressel, though it seems very unlikely that Rife would have given him permission to say, "He really is a drug dealer." 


March 9th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

This sounds dubious... but even assuming Cunningham is correct:

  • Tressel wasn't under any enforceable order not to speak.  The FBI can't gag someone unrelated to the investigation regarding information only tangentially related to the investigation.
  • Once the FBI raided the place, the de facto 'gag order' would obviously have been moot
  • Once Tressel was asked by the school (or the NCAA), if this was the case he would have said "I can't tell you," not "no, I had no idea about these things."
  • Once it was obvious that everyone else knew, Tressel continued to play dumb.
  • Tressel still could have suspended the players for a "violation of team rules" without revealing any information.
  • Tressel still could have anonymously informed compliance.

Go home. Get shinebox.


March 9th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

....for the FBI  to get a gag order to ensure his silence on the matter.

The rest of your points are absolutely correct. I'm not buying.

Since OSU won't fire him IMHO it's the NCAA's responsibility to make the job situation in Columbus untenable for 'Senator' Tressel.

Maybe docking 10 schollies a year for three years and a 2 year Bowl ban as well as Vacating the 2010 season would help Jim make a career move in the right direction.




March 9th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

The FBI could get a gag order.  I just question whether they actually got an order, and an FBI agent probably wouldn't just tell him informally not to talk.  And if it was an actual court order, OSU would have shouted that from the rooftops.

Captain Obvious

March 9th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

I was laughing so hard I had to close my office door when I read this OP.

I'm sorry, but if BILL CUNNINGHAM is your last bastion of hope to inject some reasoned analysis into this investigation then OSU is hopelessly, irretrievably screwed.  The thought of this - I just can't stop laughing.