NCAA: Tressel lied to protect players

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel committed “potential major violations” when he lied to protect his players who traded memorabilia for money and tattoos, the NCAA said in a “notice of allegations” sent to the school.

In the notice, dated April 21, the NCAA accuses Tressel of ethical misconduct and knowingly using ineligible players once he became aware of the investigation of players selling awards and memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo dealer. According to the NCAA, Tressel “falsely attested” he reported everything he knew about NCAA violations to university officials.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday that Tressel’s conversations regarding the NCAA violations committed by quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other players included emails, text messages and calls with Pryor’s mentor, the QB’s high school coach, Pryor himself and the FBI. Tressel did not contact the Ohio State compliance office to report any knowledge of the situation.

The newspaper reported that those penalties could include loss of scholarships and Ohio State being ruled ineligible to play in the Big Ten championship game and postseason bowl game.

In a short statement released Monday morning, Ohio State said: “The

allegations are largely consistent with what the university

self-reported to the NCAA on March 8, 2011, and which were widely

covered in the media. 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.”

Tressel has been fined $250,000 and suspended five games by Ohio State. The NCAA could increase that penalty.

Like Tressel, the five players, all seniors-to-be, have been suspended for the Buckeyes’ first five games. The other players involved were running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas. The players also are required to make to make charitable donations that reflect the “improper benefits” they received, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.

Another player, sophomore-to-be linebacker Jordan Whiting, was suspended for the season opener and must make a $150 charitable donation.

Tressel, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith will meet with the NCAA infractions committee Aug. 12 in Indianapolis.

The Dispatch reported that Ohio State was not cited for “failure to monitor” or “failure of institutional control” violations, which would likely lead to the harshest of penalties, but the paper noted that Ohio State could qualify as a repeat offender based on past situations

with former men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien and former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith.