Ohio State has agreed to dump the good that came from the 2010 football season so that it might be able to distance itself from the bad.
In a pre-emptive strike for next month’s hearing with the NCAA, Ohio State has voluntarily chosen to vacate its 2010 football season from the record books as punishment for violations committed by former head coach Jim Tressel and many of his players.
Wins this season over Michigan — the seventh in a row for OSU in that rivalry — and Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, have essentially been removed from the NCAA’s memory.
Among the correctional steps OSU has taken was Tressel’s May 30 resignation, which is now being termed a retirement. A restructured settlement will absolve Tressel of paying the $250,000 that OSU fined him. Tressel’s 10th and final season at OSU will go down in the NCAA annals as a 0-0 record, with no mention of the 12 games the Buckeyes won in 13 tries. In turn, Tressel’s career win total shrinks from 106 to 94.
“We are fully cooperating with the NCAA, and we look forward to working together to bring a resolution to these current matters,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement.
OSU conceded that it falls under the NCAA’s repeat-violator status because of sanctions imposed in 2006 against the Buckeyes men’s basketball team. For an institution to be ruled a repeat violator, NCAA sanctions must have occurred twice within a five-year window. But OSU contends it should not be charged as such, believing that the football program should not be punished for another athletic program’s wrongdoing and because the majority of the significant violations committed by the basketball team happened 13 years ago. Furthermore, OSU believes it bears “limited responsibility” for fostering a culture of preferential treatment.
OSU will go before the NCAA infractions committee Aug. 12, and Tressel is expected to attend, according to an Associated Press interview with Tressel’s former lawyer. Tressel is accused of lying to the NCAA about his knowledge of OSU players violating rules by profiting from the exchange of football memorabilia.
Tressel signed an NCAA form in September saying he was unaware of any violations in his program. But emails sent to and from Tressel’s work email account indicated the coach knew some of his players were involved in exchanging memorabilia for services with a Columbus tattoo parlor.
Upon meeting with OSU officials next month, the infractions committee is expected to wait until October before formally announcing any penalties levied against OSU. Should it deem OSU’s self-imposed sanctions to be appropriate and sufficient, the infractions committee can choose to not take any further action.
That would be a reason to rejoice for OSU, which is apparently willing to erase the past so long as it can be free from future restrictions. Neither a reduction of scholarships nor a bowl ban is among OSU’s self-imposed punishments.
Other corrective steps taken by OSU include two years of probation effective Friday and increasing its compliance staff from six to eight. OSU will require players to show proof of possession for previously received rings and watches and will not distribute future memorabilia — such as the gold pants pendant awarded for wins over Michigan — until the completion of one’s eligibility.
In its case to the NCAA, OSU said it had been proactive in punishment when it suspended five players for the first five games of the 2011 season. One of those players, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left the program in June.
An additional player whose named was redacted from the letter has been ruled ineligible for the same violation.
OSU released Tressel’s retirement agreement Friday, showing the coach stopped receiving base pay from the university on June 30.
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