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Commentary: Senator Tressel’s impeachment could signal end of a dominant era

The football program’s offseason of horrors added another nightmarish chapter Thursday as the NCAA sent its “notice of allegations” to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee.

OSU must now send the NCAA its response to the charges levied against the university. The NCAA wants to know every dirty little secret the football program might have committed in recent years, in addition to other pertinent information.

However, the NCAA did not cite OSU for “failure to monitor” or “failure of institutional control.”

Why not?

Because there was only one man controlling the cover-up, and the man doing his best Richard Nixon was coach Jim Tressel.

The email exchange with attorney Christopher Cicero, who contacted Tressel first, is defensible.

But there’s no reason to solicit the opinion of Ted Sarniak, a confidant of Terrelle Pryor, or Roy Hall, Pryor’s high school coach.

Now all are caught up in Tressel’s cover-up tornado.

OSU records don’t show a single call or email from Tressel to the OSU compliance office. Tressel didn’t send athletics director Gene Smith an email either.

What’s the point of having a compliance department if you aren’t going to use it to report and investigate a clear NCAA violation?

To Tressel’s credit, his colossal cover-up almost worked. But now that the secret is out, the repercussions will be considerable.

Because Tressel knew at least two players were selling memorabilia, those transactions made said players ineligible.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, since 2004 there have been four Football Bowl Championship-division universities — Alabama football, South Alabama men’s tennis, Arkansas track and Southern California football — that had to vacate victories in which ineligible athletes competed. All four ended up on probation, and USC was banned from postseason play last season in addition to this upcoming season.

So what does this mean for the Buckeyes? The 2010 regular season will be vacated. That means the Big Ten title streak is over, along with the Michigan win streak. It’s quite likely the NCAA will hit OSU with scholarship reductions and probation. A Big Ten championship game or postseason ban wouldn’t come as a shock either.

USC’s program was a borderline dynasty before the NCAA sent it to the guillotine. OSU will face a similar fate.

The possibility that Tressel fell on his own cover-up sword is growing stronger by the day. Since 1989 the NCAA has sanctioned 28 schools in various sports for violating NCAA Bylaw 10.1, or the bylaw Tressel is accused of having violated. Of the 13 head coaches involved at other schools, one kept her job. The others resigned or were fired. Precedent presumes that this is the end of The Vest’s tenure in Columbus.

One year after Cicero sent his first email to Tressel, the sweater-vest of honesty and integrity that covered Columbus’ favorite sons and their senatorial leader has come apart at the seams. It has revealed a program whose leader has been impeached. And, like Nixon, Tressel is unlikely to survive his cover-up.

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