End of an era: Jim Tressel resigns
Coach said in February interview that as OSU coach, 'you can't be perfect'
Published: Monday, May 30, 2011
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Do you think it was necessary for Jim Tressel to resign?
He roamed the Ohio State sideline for 10 years with his conservative attire and conservative play calling.
He basked in the glory of a national championship win and took heat for twice failing to capture the crystal football.
Now, after one tumultuous offseason shrouded with controversy and scandal, Jim Tressel is gone.
Tressel submitted his letter of resignation Monday morning, ending months of debate about his job status but leaving behind plenty of questions.
President E. Gordon Gee released a statement Monday morning saying assistant coach Luke Fickell will coach the entire 2011 season and that a search for a permanent head coach will not start until after the upcoming season.
Tressel was facing a five-game suspension and $250,000 fine for failing to report NCAA violations committed by his players.
"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in his letter of resignation. "The appreciation that (my wife) Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable."
Tressel, who didn't apologize in his letter, wrote that the turmoil within the football program was becoming too much of a "distraction."
"The recent situation has been a distraction for our great university, and I make this decision for the greater good of our school," Tressel wrote.
Tressel could not be reached for comment. A man who answered the door at the Tressel household Monday evening said he wasn't home.
In a February interview with The Lantern, Tressel said that as coach at OSU, "you can't be perfect and you can't get everything done."
In a video statement, athletic director Gene Smith said he and Tressel met Sunday night after the coach returned from a vacation in Florida.
They met again in Tressel's office Monday morning, when Tressel submitted his letter of resignation to Smith.
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said Tressel called a meeting with his players at 8:45 a.m. to break the news to them.
Position coaches contacted players not present at the meeting, Smith said.
"There wasn't a huge gathering," Lynch told The Lantern. "The whole team wasn't there, given the fact that it was a holiday weekend."
Smith said he asked Fickell to become the team's interim head coach before Tressel addressed the team.
"When we met with the team, Luke had an opportunity to share some things with the team," Smith said. "He did an excellent job of talking about the things that are important."
Athletic department spokesman Dan Wallenberg told The Lantern that there are no immediate plans for Smith to address the media.
On Dec. 23, 2010, the NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas for five games for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Linebacker Jordan Whiting also received a one-game ban.
Last week, Ray Small, who played receiver under Tressel from 2006-2009, told The Lantern he sold his Big Ten Championship rings.
A Sports Illustrated report Monday evening said 28 OSU players – including nine current athletes – exchanged memorabilia for tattoos.
"During the course of an investigation, the university and the NCAA work jointly to review any new allegations that come to light, and will continue to do so until the conclusion of the investigation," Smith said in a statement. "You should (be) rest assured that these new allegations will be evaluated in exactly this manner. Beyond that we will have no further comment."
Tressel received a series of emails from attorney and former OSU football player Chris Cicero between April and June 2010 detailing several players' involvement with Rife. Tressel forwarded the information on to Pryor's mentor, Ted Sarniak, but failed to inform Gee, Smith and the NCAA.
On Sept. 13, 2010, Tressel signed a document stating he had no knowledge of any NCAA violations. At a March 8 press conference, Tressel admitted to knowingly playing athletes who should have been ineligible.
At that press conference, Tressel said he didn't think he needed to resign.
"That wouldn't be something that would jump in my mind," Tressel said, "unless there came that point in time where I said, ‘You know what? The best thing to do for those kids (OSU players) is if I do,' and I don't feel that way."
OSU originally suspended Tressel for two games, but the coach later asked for his punishment to match that of his players. Fickell was to take over during Tressel's absence.
"We look forward to refocusing the football program on doing what we do best – representing this extraordinary university and its values on the field, in the classroom and in life," Smith said Monday. "We look forward to supporting Luke Fickell in his role as our football coach. We have full confidence in his ability to lead our football program."
Tressel was scheduled to earn $3.5 million this year. Fickell's salary has yet to be determined, Lynch said. Fickell earned $250,000 in 2010.
Lynch said Gee appointed a committee to advise him on "issues relating to our football program."
The committee, made up of seven past and current Board of Trustees members and university administrators, included Alex Shumate, chair of the Committee on Trusteeship; Jerry Jurgensen, Board of Trustees member; Brandon Mitchell, the graduate/professional student trustee for the Board; Geoffrey Chatas, senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer for OSU; Joseph Alutto, executive vice president and provost for the Office of Academic Affairs; Robert Duncan, former chairperson of the Board of Trustees; Christopher Culley, senior vice president and general counsel for the Office of Legal Affairs.