Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was cited by the school in performance reviews for failing to report NCAA rules violations and complete compliance forms years before those kinds of lapses led to his resignation, according to documents released today by the university.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Tressel’s last written performance review was in 2005-06 because Gene Smith, who replaced Andy Geiger in 2005, opted to do verbal reviews.
Under Geiger, the university gave Tressel six warning letters about NCAA violations — including one that was sent to the entire football staff — between 2001 and 2005. Issues, the Dispatch learned from documents obtained on a public-records reuest, ranged from allowing a recruit's mother to make a free phone call to paying attention to the cars that players drove.
“I am writing to make clear that the University expects you and your staff to pay attention to the automobiles driven by football student-athletes and report to the Athletic Compliance Office any unusual circumstances with respect to such automobiles,” Geiger wrote Tressel in a 2003 “letter of caution and education” over improprieties involving Maurice Clarett.
Tressel resigned May 30 amid a scandal in which players sold OSU memorabilia. Smith could not be reached for comment by the Dispatch and Tressel’s lawyer, Gene Marsh, cited a March 11 report by the university in which it notified the NCAA of Tressel’s violations.
His “behavior in this situation is out of character for him and is contrary to his proven history of promoting an atmosphere of NCAA compliance within the football program,” the document, signed by Smith, OSU President E. Gordon Gee and John Bruno, faculty athletics representative. “Since his hiring as the head football coach in 2001, he and his staff have attended NCAA rules education sessions on a consistent basis, regularly sought interpretations and self-reported secondary violations.”
Ohio State officials have an Aug. 12 meeting with the NCAA Infractions Committee about the improper benefits players received when they sold and traded memorabilia for tattoos and Tressel’s lies about his knowledge of the violations.
Documents also show that basketball coach Thad Matta was cited for compliance problems in reviews, but his evaluations, which were conducted by Senior Athletic Director Miechelle Willis, were written.
“I am writing to make clear that the University expects you and your staff to pay attention to the automobiles driven by football student-athletes and report to the Athletic Compliance Office any unusual circumstances with respect to such automobiles,” Geiger wrote Tressel in a “letter of caution and education.”
He also counseled Tressel to monitor and report any signs if players' use of cell phones and pagers that were "out of the ordinary." Among the allegations leveled against Clarrett was free use of a cell phone.
The Dispatch, which reported May 7 that a salesman who worked at two area car dealerships had sold vehicles to a concentration of OSU athletes and family members, today received compliance-related emails it requested from Ohio State 10 weeks ago.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles examined 25 player-related vehicle sales and reported in June that it found no dealer paperwork irregularities. However, the BMV did not search for possible NCAA violations, saying such an investigation was outside its purview.
After the BMV report, OSU dropped its plan to hire experts to conduct an independent investigation of vehicle purchases by players and their family members. The NCAA has been investigating departed quarterback Terrelle Pryor's use of several vehicles.
An evaluation of former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s job performance in 2005-06 rated him as “unacceptable” in self-reporting violations in a timely manner.
Records released Friday by the university as part of a public-records request show that Tressel, forced to resign on May 30 for knowing about NCAA violations and then covering them up, was graded “excellent” in 10 of the 12 areas in the evaluation.
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 players received improper benefits in April 2010, but did not report them to his superiors or NCAA compliance officers until confronted with the evidence in January.