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Despite damning evidence, Ohio State catches huge break

NCAA likely to give the Buckeyes a slap on the wrist. Dave Miller

Print This July 23, 2011, 07:45 AM EST

The NCAA will not charge Ohio State with either a failure to monitor or lack of institutional control charge for the memorabilia and tattoos scandal that cost head coach Jim Tressel his job in late May and prompted quarterback Terrelle Pryor to leave the school just a few days later.

On Friday, The Columbus Dispatch received a copy of the case summary, and the NCAA maintained that the school attempted to inform the Ohio State players in question of the potential for rules violations.

The summary stated: “Considering the institution’s rules education and monitoring efforts, the enforcement staff did not believe a failure to monitor charge was appropriate in this case.”

Jim TresselICONJim Tressel was painted as an honest guy with integrity mere months ago. These days, Ohio State has cast him as a liar and a fraud.

Investigators told the school that they did not find any new violations within the program. The summary also stated that Tressel was the only university official who knew about the violations involving his players. Tressel did not report them to anyone else at the school.

Tressel stepped down on the morning of Memorial Day, months after the school discovered e-mails revealing that he had knowledge in April 2010 of his players’ involvement with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner.

As part of its self-imposed penalties, Ohio State vacated all of its victories from 2010 and will appear before the Committee on Infractions in August.

The most mind-boggling aspect of the NCAA’s summary is the statement regarding Ohio State’s “rules education” being properly applied to the players in question.

Back in December, Ohio State allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas because they claimed the players did not receive the proper rules education. Now, however, the NCAA is saying it didn’t charge the school with failure to monitor because “[OSU] provided education to football student-athletes regarding extra benefits.”

Huh?

The Buckeyes seemingly dodged a huge bullet based on the findings in this case summary, although the NCAA had much less evidence against USC and it still pummeled the Trojans.

The report from The Columbus Dispatch quickly followed a story by WBNS-10TV in Columbus that said Tressel told investigators he tipped off school compliance director Doug Archie, senior assistant general counsel Julie Vannatta and possibly other people in mid-December that players may have been receiving impermissible benefits.

However, the school said it told the NCAA that it discovered Tressel’s involvement after finding the infamous e-mails in January. On Friday, Ohio State denied that Tressel told them of rules violations.

According to the 139-page transcript of the interview Tressel conducted with the NCAA, which was released by The Dispatch, Tressel did not mention the contents of the e-mails in December but he did mention an e-mail tip to the compliance department. However, the department never followed up on the tip.

How can a compliance department not look into such a tip? The inaction by Ohio State is a real problem, but one that the NCAA seemingly has overlooked.

The NCAA has so much evidence in this case, yet they had no such evidence that anyone at USC knew what was going on with Reggie Bush. And look what happened to the Trojans — and they lost their appeal when they argued that the punishment was too severe. The NCAA decimated the Trojans because the governing body argued that the administration “should have known.” Ohio State’s compliance office could have known — based off the email tip — but it didn’t act.

In terms of possible sanctions for the Buckeyes, it’s difficult to speculate considering this case hasn’t gone, up to this point, as many had anticipated. I could see some kind of show-cause penalty for Tressel, although the length is anyone’s guess. For the Buckeyes, probation is likely to occur, as well as the loss of a couple of scholarships. But that could be it.

A possible stunning light sentence, making the gig in Columbus potentially more intriguing for Urban Meyer in 2012 — no matter how successful Luke Fickell is in his debut campaign.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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