Allegations became public this week that Ohio State Buckeye head football coach Jim Tressel failed to report that five of his players, including star Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, sold some of their official OSU team memorabilia including jerseys, awards and championship rings to a drug-dealing, tatoo parlor owner in Columbus. Players are forbidden to profit from the sale of these items while they’re in school.
According to the NCAA rules, Tressel was obligated to report these events to the University President and the Athletic Director, the moment he became aware of them.
Well, turns out, he became aware of the violations last April after receiving an e-mail from a former OSU player, now lawyer, and told the whistle-blower he would “get right on it”. He didn’t until December, after the season was over, when the press broke the story. He has received a suspension for the first two games of the upcoming season. (Which will be against MAC teams Toledo and Akron - Big deal!). He was also fined $250,000 by the University.
Tressel obviously buried the incriminating info about his players so that his team would have a better shot at a good 2010 season. And it worked! They ended up 12-1. It’s obvious he wouldn’t have reported the violations, until he was forced to when the media brought them to light, to protect his 2011 season as well.
So now he’s basically received a slap on the wrist from the NCAA - most likely because he cooperated with them by admitting that he had received the e-mails, albeit nine months after the fact.
While the national press has come down hard on Tressel, the majority of the Ohio media - and the Buckeye fans - are basically giving him a pass. Why? Because he wins football games. He’s beaten Michigan 9 out of their last 10 match-ups.
I understand the enormous pressure that these coaches are under to win football games expecially when you’ve got tens of thousands of fans sitting in the stadium, looking over your shoulder every other Saturday during the fall. They say “it’s only a game” - but it’s not really “only a game” when your reputation and your livelihood depend on the results. Tressel tried by winning games at all costs to do both. Although he most certainly is not losing his job, he did tarnish his reputation.
But then again, this event reminds us what we’ve all learned from Charlie Sheen… the most important thing is “Winning!”.