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NCAA informs Ohio State, Tressel of ‘potential major violations’

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The NCAA has formally notified Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee of its intent to obtain documents regarding the investigation of football coach Jim Tressel and six players for selling memorabilia, receiving improper benefits and failing to report the violations.

The NCAA says the allegations are considered “potential major violations of NCAA legislation” and that the university may request that the major violations be considered secondary, with supporting evidence.

The NCAA is requesting each allegation be confirmed or denied with supporting evidence.

The university must compile all requested documents and respond to the allegations by July 5. Gee, Tressel and OSU athletic director Gene Smith are scheduled to meet with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12.

John Bruno, faculty athletics representative, and Doug Archie, director of compliance, are also requested at the meeting.

In the letter dated April 21, the committee wrote to Gee that it “is most interested in your presentation.”

The athletic department said it has no further comment during the response phase.

If the committee finds the alleged violations occurred, penalties will be assessed based on Bylaw 19.5.2.

Sanctions could be as severe as vacating OSU’s wins from the 2010 season.

However, the 2011 Sugar Bowl victory will not be vacated, as the NCAA reinstated the athletes for that game on the basis that the athletes “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs.

Tressel could face termination of employment, and the program could suffer losses of scholarships and off-campus recruiting, according to the bylaw.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling game-worn memorabilia and awards and receiving free tattoos. Tressel will join them for the first five games of the season. He also faces a $250,000 fine.

Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska professor in constitutional law, served on the NCAA Committee of Infractions from 2006–08 and chaired the committee in 2007 and 2008.

“It’s very unusual for the infractions committee to reject the school’s penalties,” she said, “but in every infractions case I know of, the committee imposed further penalties.”

 

Trent Barter contributed to this story.

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