As predicted in this space, the NCAA is fast-tracking the Ohio State/Tressel case, and no matter what happens it looks like Jim Tressel has not coached his last game at Ohio State. If there is any good news to the school getting its notice of allegations from the NCAA, that's it.
The notice comes less than four months after the Buckeye Six (soon to be five) were suspended in late December.
To no one's surprise, Tressel is accused of unethical conduct for hiding those emails and knowingly playing ineligible players. The NCAA says that Ohio State could be treated as a "repeat violator" meaning that technically it is eligible for the death penalty. (Settle down Bucknuts, it won't happen).
It is compelling to finally see in print that the NCAA has officially alleged that Ohio State competed with ineligible players on the field. Beyond Tressel's unethical conduct, that is the essence of the case. USC competed with one ineligible player (Reggie Bush) and look what it got -- a two-year bowl ban and the removal of 30 scholarships over three years.
Using that as example, is it fair to assume that Ohio State will receive similar penalties? If so, it doesn't look like those will impact this season. In other words, Ohio State could compete for the Big Ten and national championship in 2011, less than a year after the school announced the initial player suspensions.
That's the same reason why it seems that Tressel will coach this season. Ohio State will reportedly appear before the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12. Typically, penalties follow six to eight weeks after such a meeting. Considering the depth and scope of the case, finalizing this case could take much longer. Tressel already has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. Using UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun, as an example the NCAA isn't likely to add to the suspension this season.
UConn's penalty came down in the middle of last season. Because of that, Calhoun's three-game suspension was put off until the 2011-2012 season. That makes things even more sketchy at Ohio State. Applying that history, a bowl ban, scholarship reductions, etc., would be put off until 2012 as well.
Then if the NCAA decides to add to Tressel's five-game suspension, does it, say, add on five games at the beginning of the 2012 season? And at that point, does Ohio State figure the hit is too big and take further action on Tressel? Yes, I'm suggesting the f-word. Firing. But not this year. When he is actually on the sideline, the man wins a lot of games.
Are five games enough? On page 5 of the notice (NOA), Ohio State is asked to provide a detailed description of disciplinary actions taken against athletic department officials involved in the inquiry. Specifically, " ... explain the reasons that the institution believes these actions to be appropriate ..."
Will Ohio State be vacating or forfeiting games? The NCAA also asked for the school's win-loss record the last four seasons and the dates and results of postseason competition.
Most damning for Tressel: The NCAA says he had knowledge (through the now-infamous emails) that two players -- Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey, though the names are redacted in the notice -- were selling memorabilia to local tattoo-parlor owner Eddie Rife. That means that players competed while ineligible with Tressel's knowledge, a significant violation. Tressel already had signed a document on Sept. 13 saying he was unaware of any wrongdoing. In the NOA, the NCAA has asked for a copy of that form.
Tressel said on March 8 he did not reveal the emails with superiors due to "confidentiality" concerns. However, Tressel did share them with a Jeanette, Pa. businessman Ted Sarniak who has a relationship with Pryor.
Former USC coach Todd McNair was accused of unethical conduct in the Reggie Bush and given a one- year show cause order that essentially did not allow him to work in 2010. He is appealing that ruling separate from USC's appeal of the June penalties.
Columbus Dispatch research showed that since 2006, the NCAA has penalized 28 schools for violating bylaw 10.1 dealing with unethical conduct. There were 13 head coaches involved in those cases. Only one kept his job.
The NCAA did seemingly have a sense of the dramatic. The NOA was delivered to Ohio State president Gordon Gee on Friday, the day before the spring game.