The NCAA has told Ohio State that it won’t face the most severe charges possible in the memorabilia-for-cash and tattoos scandal that cost football coach Jim Tressel his job.
Investigators said they found no evidence that Ohio State failed to properly monitor its football program or any evidence of a lack of institutional control, according to a letter sent to the university and released Friday.
NCAA investigators also said they have not found any new violations.
“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,” the NCAA said in the letter sent Thursday.
The report clearing Ohio State of the most serious of institutional breaches is a big break for the university, which will meet with the NCAA’s committee on infractions on Aug. 12. That committee could accept penalties Ohio State already placed on itself or could pile on recruiting restrictions, bowl bans and other, stiffer sanctions.
The NCAA letter first reported by The Columbus Dispatch said that Tressel was the only university official who knew about the violations involving his players. He didn’t report them to anyone else at the school.
Tressel stepped down under pressure in May, months after the university discovered emails showing he’d been warned by an attorney in April 2010 about his players’ involvement with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner. The coach knew players received cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment but did not tell anyone at Ohio State or the NCAA for about nine months. NCAA rules — and Tressel’s contract — specified that he had to disclose any and all information about possible violations.
The university announced earlier this month it would vacate the 2010 season, including its Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas and its share of the Big Ten championship. It also self-imposed a two-year NCAA probation, in addition to suspending six players for the first five games and forcing Tressel out.
Shortly after Tressel ended his 10-year run at Ohio State, which included the 2002 national championship, star quarterback Terrelle Pryor — one of the suspended players — left the school, hoping to try his luck in an NFL supplemental draft.
The NCAA said that it investigated a Sports Illustrated report that said nine more players sold memorabilia to the tattoo parlor owner, but confirmed that only one had any dealings with the man.