LeBron, Nicklaus react to Tressel news

LeBron, Nicklaus react to Tressel news

Published May. 31, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

LeBron James is at the NBA finals. Jack Nicklaus is hosting the Memorial.

Neither can avoid the current mess surrounding Ohio State football.

James is a longtime Buckeyes fan, and Nicklaus played his college golf for Ohio State. On Tuesday, when both James and Nicklaus were speaking before their events, the very first question each heard in question-and-answer sessions with media members was about his reaction to Tressel's scandalous departure from the Buckeyes.

Tressel resigned Monday amid NCAA violations, sending one of America's proudest programs into even more turmoil.


''I just think it's unfortunate,'' James said after the Miami Heat completed their final practice before Game 1 of the NBA finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. ''He's done some great things for the university.''

James never went to college but has been close with the Buckeyes programs. The basketball team wears his line of apparel and James is tight with Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whose car collection - specifically, how he was able to obtain expensive vehicles - is now under scrutiny.

And Nicklaus is an Ohio State legend. Not only is he a native of Columbus, Ohio, where the school is based, but The Jack Nicklaus Museum is in the heart of the Buckeyes' athletic complex.

''Well, obviously the cover-up was far worse than the act,'' Nicklaus said Tuesday in Dublin, Ohio. ''And once you got the cover-up, it became a situation where Jim had to say some things that turned out to be that weren't exactly truthful. And so that's where he got himself in trouble. ... I feel very bad for Jim. He's a nice man.''

Nicklaus' grandson, Nick O'Leary, signed earlier this year to play football for Florida State. Nicklaus said he would have been thrilled if the tight end - one of the nation's most coveted recruits in the 2011 signing class - had chosen to play for Tressel.

Tressel's decade-long run as Ohio State's coach ended because he was aware players received cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment and did not tell anyone at Ohio State or the NCAA what he knew for more than nine months. That violated both NCAA rules and the terms of his own contact with the university.

''I think unfortunately it's a situation they got caught in, and that's where they are,'' Nicklaus said. ''What's going to happen, I don't know beyond this point. The NCAA, it's more in their hands. Once one of these things happens, by the time they get through digging they're going to find whether somebody had a hangnail someplace or not.''

Nicklaus played at Ohio State during the Woody Hayes era, and on Tuesday, he was asked what he thought Hayes would have done in the current situation the Buckeyes are facing.

''I think Woody would have protected his kids. He probably did protect his kids,'' Nicklaus said. ''Woody was a good man. I think Tressel is a good man.''

James said he believed the Buckeyes would rally.

''Everyone in Columbus and Ohio knows how important, how great he was for the university,'' James said. ''So it's unfortunate. I wish him the best and the organization, the university will come back. It's one of the best universities that we have in America.''