Tressel's tenure over at Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has resigned amid a scandal stemming from his failure to notify school officials of NCAA violations by some of his players.
OSU released a statement Monday morning confirming Tressel’s departure but would not say whether the coach had been asked to step down or was threatened with firing if he did not.
"We stand by our statement that he resigned,” OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said. “We have a resignation letter from coach Tressel."
Tressel, who compiled a 106-22 record in 10 seasons as Buckeyes coach, met with his players at 8:45 a.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
He released a statement Monday saying he resigned:
"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the
best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach. The
appreciation that (wife) Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said he accepted Tressel's resignation after talking with university trustees.
"In consultation with the senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, I
have been actively reviewing matters attendant to our football program,
and I have accepted coach Tressel's resignation," Gee said. "The university's enduring public purposes and its
tradition of excellence continue to guide our actions."
Tressel's resignation comes less than a month after he received a strong show of support from Gee and athletic director Gene Smith. During a March 8 news conference, the administrators staunchly supported Tressel while detailing major NCAA rules violations by the coach.
Then, two weeks ago, Smith gave Tressel a vote of confidence at Big Ten Conference meetings in Chicago.
On Monday, the athletic director talked about the future.
"We look forward to refocusing the football program on doing what we do
best — representing this extraordinary university and its values on the
field, in the classroom, and in life," Smith said. "We look forward to supporting Luke Fickell in his role as our football coach. We have full confidence in his ability to lead our football program."
Fickell will serve as interim head coach for the 2011-12 season, after which school officials will begin "recruitment
for a new head coach — which is expected to include external and
Fickell had been promoted to assistant head coach on March 30. Before that, starting in 2005, he served as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator.
"There was a mutual recognition that this was the right time," said Lynch.
Asked what changed since March 8 to prompt OSU to accept Tressel’s resignation, Lynch said: "We have been actively working with the NCAA as allegations came to light. We will continue to do so until this investigation wraps up."
Tressel received emails from Columbus attorney Chris Cicero in April 2010 informing him that quarterback Terrelle Pryor and wide receiver DeVier Posey were likely in violation of NCAA rules for accepting extra benefits from Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.
Tressel did not tell OSU or the NCAA about the content of those emails until the school approached him in January after discovering them in a search of his emails.
Tressel signed an NCAA compliance form in September stating he had informed school officials of all NCAA violations he was aware of.
OSU said Tressel misled its investigators twice in December when Pryor, Posey and three other players were suspended five games for the violations Cicero had detailed in his emails to Tressel nine months earlier.
Tressel is owed more than $13 million on a contract that extends through the 2014 season. His failure to notify OSU officials breached his contract and gave the school reason to fire him for cause.
Asked March 8 if he would fire Tressel, Gee said, “Are you kidding? I just hope the coach doesn’t dismiss me."
As for whether OSU will pay Tressel a settlement to walk away, Lynch said: "I am not aware of any financial details. It would not be appropriate for me to comment.”
Gee is out of town and will not meet with the media Monday, Lynch said, adding that Smith will address the media "at a later time. Could be today. Who knows?"
Fickell already was expecting some interim duties in 2011. He had been appointed to coach the Buckeyes while Tressel sat out the first five games as punishment for his NCAA misdeeds.
OSU will search for a permanent successor, who could come from a pool that might include former Florida coach Urban Meyer, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini or former NFL coach Jon Gruden.
All are Ohio natives.
Lynch said Gee convened a special committee "to advise him on football matters" after OSU's admission that Tressel failed to notify school officials of his players’ NCAA rules violations.
That committee, chaired by Robert Schottenstein, is comprised of Alex Shumate, Jerry Jurgensen, Brandon Mitchell, Jeff Chattis, Joe Alutto, Robert Duncan and Chris Colley.
Lynch said the committee met several times before the board accepted Tressel’s resignation Monday.
His departure comes one day before the scheduled publication of a Sports Illustrated story believed to be an investigation into the OSU football program.
Ohio State was made aware of certain details in that story late last week.
“We have been actively reviewing this issue for a while,“ Lynch said. “You can assume our deliberations have been diligent and thorough. The board and President Gee consider this matter unrelated to the media (coverage).”
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