Jim Tressel: You Are Not Above the Rules
By Carla Parker, Jersey Girl Sports Contributor
Tressel’s resignation comes amid NCAA violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal that included five Ohio State players. For those of you unfamiliar with the scandal this is how it went down.
In December, five Ohio State players – including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor – were found to have received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor who was the subject of a federal drug-trafficking case. The players were suspended the first five games of the 2011 season.
After further investigation, it was found that Tressel had learned in April 2010 about the players’ involvement with the parlor owner, Edward Rife.
A local attorney and former Ohio State walk-on player, Christopher Cicero, had sent Tressel emails detailing the improper benefits. Tressel and Cicero traded a dozen emails on the subject.
Tressel had signed an NCAA compliance form in September saying he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by athletes. His contract, in addition to NCAA rules, specified that he had to tell his superiors or compliance department about any potential NCAA rules violations. Yet he did not tell anyone, except to forward emails to Ted Sarniak, reportedly a “mentor” for Pryor back in his hometown of Jeannette, Pa.
Tressel’s resignation comes nearly three months after Ohio State called a news conference to announce it has suspended Tressel for two games – later increasing the ban to five games to coincide with the players’ punishment – and fined him $250,000.
But that press conference should have been a totally different press conference. Instead of announcing that they were suspending Tressel for two games, Ohio State should have been announcing that they were firing Tressel for his indiscretions and the embarrassment he brought to the university.
Tressel’s job as a coach is not only to coach football but it also includes preaching values, reaffirming right from wrong and teaching boys how honest young men. Tressel failed in that department.
As soon as Tressel learned that his players broke NCAA rules he should have turn them into school officials immediately.
Whether we agree with the rules or not is not the issue here. The issue is that several of his players broke those rules and instead of reporting it he tried to hide it so it wouldn’t affect his winning percentage.
We all know that Tressel would have turned the players in if they were a bunch of scrubs, but they were all starters.
And when news broke about the players’ wrongdoings, he pretty much threw them under the bus by not taking responsibility for his part in it.
There is no doubt that Tressel is a great coach when it comes to teaching X’s and O’s. He had a record of 106-22-0 at Ohio State and led the Buckeyes to eight Bowl Championship Series games in his 10 years, including a national championship in 2002.
But his failure came when his winning percentage became more important than teaching an important life lesson. That life lesson: when you break the rules you have to suffer the consequences.