Ohio State has responded to the NCAA. In its response, Ohio State lays it all on Jim Tressel. Everything.
"The responsibility is upon Tressel. No other institutional personnel were aware" of player violations, and the former coach failed in his duty to report them, Ohio State wrote in its response to NCAA allegations. "The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel."
In March, Ohio State's Director of Athletics Gene Smith said, "At the end of the day, Jim Tressel is our football coach."
It was also revealed in OSU's report that Coach Tressel would not have to pay the $250,000 fine imposed on him by the university last spring. Instead he will be paid more than $52,000 and allowed to resign from the university which will allow him to maintain his university health benefits upon retirement.
Interesting when just a month ago, OSU President E. Gordan Gee said Tressel would not be able to escape paying the fine.
And speaking of retirement, Tressel's separation from the university now goes in the books as a retirement rather than a resignation. A more civil separation from the Tressels and the right thing to do since Ohio State also came clean on pressuring Coach Tressel to resign on Memorial Day.
Mr. Smith told The Columbus Dispatch on Friday that he had asked Tressel to resign in a meeting between the two men on May 29th.
In a video released the next day, Smith said Tressel decided to resign on his own in the meeting on the 29th. University President E. Gordon Gee backed that up in June saying Tressel was not forced to resign.
Sense a pattern here?
Should we be surprised that Gee's now infamous "I just hope he doesn't dismiss me" would not be the last eyebrow raising statement to come out of university leaders.
Perhaps that is why Ohio State chose only a select group of reporters to attend a press conference in the Fawcett Center in the hours after their response to the NCAA was released.
Ohio State's Shelly Hoffman told 610WTVN's Matt Bruning that Smith had requested the press conference include only those reporters "close to the university". As a result, a hand-picked group representing WCMH-TV, WSYX-TV, WBNS-TV, The Columbus Dispatch, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Associated Press were allowed to attend.
No radio stations allowed. Not even Ohio State's flagship station 97.1 The Fan.
Buckeye Sports Bulletin, not invited. Dayton Daily News, not invited. Canton Repository, nope. Bucknuts, O-zone, Buckeye Grove? No, no and no.
This may sound like no big deal to the average web surfing, channel changing schmoe.
It is a big deal.
For a state university to control the message is one thing. It's why they employ massive media relations departments and public relations departments. It's why they hire outside companies to develop responses to the NCAA. It's why marketing people and lawyers sit in on meetings with football coaches and athletic directors.
Controlling the message is nothing new. Attempting to control the messenger is.
Classifying the above mentioned group as those "close to the university" is not a distinction I would imagine any journalist would put on their Pulitzer Prize or Edward R. Murrow Award application. Just wait until Woodward and Berstein get wind of this.
Ohio State is a public institution supported by public dollars. Not to mention the millions spent by Alumni in support of all things Buckeye. Should those taxpayers and graduates be denied their opportunity to get their Ohio State news from whomever they chose?
Access has always been tricky at Ohio State. Coaches protect their practices and their players from the probing eye of the media. But when they do, they treat everyone equally.
To begin down the slippery slope of picking and choosing which reporters gain access smacks of favoritism and preferential treatment.
Ohio State should know that's exactly what got them into this predicament in the first place.
The University is having trouble maintaining a consistent message. "Tressel's our coach. No he's not". "Tressel will have to pay." No he won't." "Tressel was not asked to resign. "Okay, we asked him to resign."
Perhaps what they are looking for is a few good journalists who can make sense of all of the inconsistencies.
It may be the only way anybody get this story straight.
The university is scheduled to meet with the NCAA on August 12th to take the next step in this process. I wonder which reporters will get to make the trip.