By Rusty Miller
COLUMBUS: An evaluation of former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s job performance in 2005-06 rated him as “unacceptable” when it came to self-reporting rules violations in a timely manner.
In addition, Tressel was issued a letter of reprimand barely six months into his tenure for giving a Buckeyes jersey to a recruit in violation of NCAA bylaws. He was also warned that he and his staff needed to do a better job of monitoring the cars the Buckeyes players were driving — an issue that would arise years later as the NCAA investigated the football program.
Tressel also had reprimands in his personnel file for permitting an outside person to coach kickers before a full team practice and allowing the mother of a recruit on an official visit to make a call for $7.93 that was billed to the university. In addition, his file contained at least two “letters of caution and education” about potential NCAA violations.
The records on Tressel were all released today by the university as part of a public-records request. He was forced to resign May 30 for knowing about NCAA violations by players but hiding that knowledge. Ohio State is now facing an Aug. 12 meeting before the NCAA”s committee on infractions as a result of the scandal.
In his ’05-’06 evaluation, Tressel was graded “excellent” in 10 of 12 area. Yet the unsigned NCAA-Ohio State evaluation form also rated Tressel unacceptable in self-reporting violations and in “timely and accurate completion of phone and unofficial visit logs.”
Tressel lost his job after it was discovered he knew back in April 2010 that players were receiving cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor in exchange for OSU football memorabilia, but did not report them to his superiors or NCAA compliance officers until confronted with the evidence last January.
This spring, the NCAA also investigated the cars driven by Ohio State players. That subject was broached in a letter from then-athletic director Andy Geiger dated Sept. 9, 2003, that cautioned Tressel that he and his staff needed to do a better job of monitoring the players’ cars.
“In the course of the investigation, there were questions surrounding, among others, [redacted name’s] automobiles and cell phone use,” Geiger wrote to Tressel. “I am writing to make it clear that the University expects you and your staff to pay attention to auotomobiles driven by the football student-athletes and report to the Athletic Compliance Office any unusual circumstances with respect to such automobiles.”
In the more recent investigation, the NCAA and Ohio State delved into the cars owned by and loaned to Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes’ three-year starting quarterback. Pryor announced shortly after Tressel was forced out that he would forgo his final year of eligibility to make himself available for an NFL supplemental draft.
The material released today by Ohio State also included:
• A letter of reprimand for allowing Dr. Pat Spurgeon to work with kickers before a full team practice. Geiger wrote: “It is our goal to avoid all violations. ... It is your responsibility to adhere to the NCAA rules and make sure you and your coaching staff understand the importance of strict compliance with all NCAA rules.”
• Another letter of “caution and education” in Tressel’s file, that said he allowed an unidentified student-athlete to “practice with the team during fall camp for 19 days despite (his) not having completed his NCAA Drug Testing Consent Form.”
Tressel’s attorney has said that the ex-coach intends to join Ohio State officials, including current athletic director Gene Smith and interim head coach Luke Fickell, for the August meeting before the committee on infractions.
Ohio State has suspended six players (five after Pryor’s departure) for the first five games of the 2011 season and has vacated its 12 wins from the 2010 season, including its victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. In addition, it also self-imposed a two-year NCAA probation. The NCAA can choose to accept those penalties or can add to them.