Columbus attorney Christopher T. Cicero, a former OSU walk-on linebacker, was the man who informed Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel that members of his team were committing NCAA rules violations, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Cicero, 54, was a member of the Buckeyes in 1983, the first year in which Tressel was an assistant at OSU under coach Earle Bruce.
OSU performed an internal investigation that uncovered that Cicero e-mailed Tressel in April 2010 to inform him that multiple OSU football players were selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, the owner of a Columbus tattoo shop who was under a federal investigation for drug trafficking charges.
Cicero and Tressel exchanged eight e-mails between April 2, 2010, and June 6, 2010, regarding the matter. OSU released the e-mails between Cicero and Tressel on Tuesday with Cicero’s name and other content redacted.
OSU’s internal investigation found that Tressel had failed to properly report the potential violations to the university and recommended on Tuesday that he be suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and be fined $250,000.
In December, six OSU players — Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas and Jordan Whiting — were suspended for the start of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits. In Cicero’s e-mails, he expressed concern about the players selling their keepsakes.
“These kids are selling these items for not that much and I cant (sic) understand how they could give something so precious away like their trophy’s and rings that they worked so hard for,” Cicero said in an e-mail to Tressel on April 16. In that e-mail, Cicero went on to explain how his father worked two jobs to provide for his family before dying in 2001 at the age of 67.
His father, Carmello Cicero, of Lyndhurst, Ohio, worked as a police officer, steel mill worker and volunteer firefighter at various points in his life.
In a press conference to announce the violations, Tressel said he did not report the potential violations because Cicero had requested in his second e-mail that the information be kept confidential.
“I needed to keep sight of the fact that confidentiality was requested by the attorney,” Tressel said. “I’ve learned that I probably needed to go to the top legal council person at the university.”
Cicero could not be reached for comment.
OSU director of media relations Jim Lynch did not immediately return comment.