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Valley VIPs come to Tressel’s defense

Published: Wed, June 1, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.



FILE- In this March 8, 2011 file photo, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, right, takes questions during a news conference with university president E. Gordon Gee, left, and football coach Jim Tressel, center, in Columbus, Ohio. Smith, unable to talk about the ongoing NCAA investigation, does touch upon some fine points of the suspensions of football coach Jim Tressel and five of his players. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam, File)

By Karl Henkel



Former Youngstown State University President Leslie Cochran had plenty to tell Sports Illustrated about Jim Tressel.

Now, some of Cochran’s former YSU brethren have plenty to say about him.

Those close to Tressel and the YSU program, including longtime play-by-play announcer Bob Hannon, questioned Cochran’s remarks, especially his characterization of the university and its football program as a family.

“Inside the family everyone knows what’s going on,” Cochran told SI’s George Dorhmann, questioning whether Tressel knew about his players’ transgressions.

That comment struck a chord with Hannon.

“It wasn’t fair,” Hannon said Tuesday. “I think that if Dr. Cochran — the president of the university — if he knew what was going on, why didn’t he take action against Mr. Tressel?”

Hannon said he didn’t feel as though Cochran was ever engaged with the program and said the former president infrequently traveled with the team.

“He wasn’t a major part of the program,” Hannon said. “And I think it was unfair some of the things he characterized.”

Paul Lyden, former vice president and president of the Penguin Club during Tressel’s tenure, echoed Hannon’s comments.

“You might as well let paint dry,” he said. “That was his interest in the football program.”

Hannon cited numerous individuals, including Joe Malmisur, the former YSU athletic director who hired Tressel in 1986, and prominent former players, who could have provided more in-depth information.

“I thought they grabbed a source that was unreliable and not credible,” he said.

Hannon and Lyden weren’t the only members of the YSU community to sound off on Tressel’s resignation, which came in advance of SI’s investigative report. It detailed more than 20 new instances of OSU football players who sold memorabilia, an NCAA violation, and revisited the Mickey Monus/Ray Issac scandal at YSU.

In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Monus, a YSU trustee and the founder of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain, Tressel called Monus about arranging a job for Isaac. By the time he left YSU, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus’ associates and employees, the article states.

In 2000, current YSU President Cynthia Anderson served as chair of the university’s internal review committee, which self-reported an NCAA violation involving quarterback Isaac, who played for YSU from 1988 to 1991.

“We spoke with many, many individuals — team members, coaches, community folks,” Anderson said. “When we wrote our report, what we did realize was that there was a board member who was acting — doing certain things — with one specific student athlete. That was the whole preface of the investigation.”

Anderson said the university now has an intercollegiate athletics subcommittee on the board of trustees to oversee ethical coaching practices, but added “there’s no guarantee that things like this won’t happen.”

Lyden called the uncovering of the violations a direct result of a “witch hunt” and that he doesn’t think Tressel intentionally deceived any of his superiors when he said he didn’t know of any violations.

“Aspects of the team and individual players are sometime shielded by staff members before it gets to the head coach,” Lyden said. “Does the coach know 100 percent of what’s going on? In my opinion, no.”

Both Anderson and Hannon also denounced any notion that YSU is considering changing the name of the soon-to-debut Watson and Tressel Training Site.

“There has certainly been no formal discussion on that whatsoever,” Anderson said. Hannon said he expects Tressel to fulfill his commitment.

Meanwhile, YSU students and Tressel fans backed the four-time Division I-AA national title winner.

“Jim Tressel is a good coach, a good man first,” said Roy Donaldson, 35, a pre-nursing student at YSU.

Michael Banker, 34, an education student at YSU, said Tressel, who went 106-22 in 10 seasons with the Buckeyes, was simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“All schools do that. Every single school does it,” he said. “It’s just who gets caught.”

Banker said he disagreed with the players’ selling of memorabilia but that schools need to brainstorm a new way to help athletes make money.

“They can’t have jobs,” he said. “They have football practice ... every day. Unless their parents are giving them money, there’s no other way to get it.”

Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik said it was hard watching Tressel’s demise unfold.

“I’m a diehard Buckeye fan,” said Pavlik, who has gotten to know Tressel through charity events over the past few years. “It hasn’t quite settled in yet. I’m sure the closer we get to the season, the harder it’s going to be.

“But it’s a great program, and I’m sure they’ll go back out there and find another coach that can fill his spot.”

All praised Tressel’s career, which started as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) in 1979.

“The only bump in the road was the Ray Isaac situation,” Hannon said. “He took an irrelevant program and turned it into a national power.”

Anderson said that although multiple violations have been uncovered, the mistakes shouldn’t define Tressel’s legacy.

“I believe that folks should be judged on their overall career,” Anderson said. “While he was at YSU he did a wonderful job, not only for this university and for the community, but he did a wonderful job with so many of our athletes.”


1Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Dumb de dumb dumb dumb...

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2DND(5 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

People - he looked square in the camera and lied about knowing what his players did last year. He signed an NCAA paper in 2010 stating he had no knowledge of any violations done by his players. This alone makes it difficult to believe anything Tressel has said in the past.

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3SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Tressel knew what was going on. Sometime early in his career he made a decision to do it against the rules. It worked to basically to benefit his own career. But the truth always comes out and now he is a phony.

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4mishmash(311 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

"Rarely Scrutinized" are the key words.

Hush Hush....... when similar allegations arose about Ray Isaac involving Mickey Monus............Hush Hush by Malsmissur, The YSU president, The Mayor & everybody including Strollo, Ungaro, McKelvey, the list is endless.... all ENABLERS.

THE TRUTH is Tressel was doing it continuessly at YSU & carried over the tradition to The Ohio State University.

Players loved playing under Tressel.....YEA....... truth is they all got "duked" with things ($$, cars, etc) under his leadership.

Tressel got second chances & third chances..... in his personal life (when he screwed over his first wife in Boardman & everyone looked the other way).....

It will be interesting what they do at YSU with his name to go on that workout facility.


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5GeorgeSands(16 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Student athletes can't have jobs and , if they don't have parents who can give them money, they have no financial assistance..

I heard a story on the radio this morning about an athlete whose mother had died and he had no money to get home which was a couple of hundred miles away. No one at the university could help him without breaking the rules. There is something wrong with a program that generates so much money but gives nothing to help out its athletes. The system has created this horrible situation.

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6lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

The whole program is wrong,why can't people get paid for a talent that thay happen to have, that said he knew he was breaking the rules so he has to go .
If you don't like the rules then try to get them changed, but you still have to play by the rules

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7unclebill(23 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

It's the system, not just Jim. Everyone knows that the sports program generate big dollars for the school, thus the attitude --Winning is every thing--- Shakespear noted "the good that a man does is often intered with his bones" Let's not do that to Jim and Ellen.

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8Westsider(253 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

It is unfortunate that Jim Tressel chose to protect students who ultimately did not deserve that level of loyalty. If this situation would change the NCAA - it would be wonderful - but it is not going to happen. What happens in college athletics - particularly college football - is that young people who have nothing - no money, no values and no moral compass - suddenly have the world at their feet and access to resources they never dreamed possible. They have no idea what to do - and since they have had no development at home - they make bad choices. I would not be surprised to see other players and even university officials like Gene Smith - be on the outside of the program when this is all over.

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9vteach77(2 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

these kids chose to play football as that was probably "their" dream. They get to go to school for free (if they are any good) and they have to realize there are sacrifices that they have to make. So if they have no money(their sacrifice) and they do shady stuff then that is their problem because of that then that is their probelm. They are so called "adults" and they shouldn't have to be policed around and watched over like hawks. I am sure this happens everywhere and i think it came out cause some people want Tressel gone. so they got it, and even tho I am an OSU fan I hope they stink this season.

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10Westsider(253 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

@ Marge - of course that is highly inappropriate - and it appears you know more than I do about this incident. I was referring specifically to the protection of players in the trading of memorabilia and accessing financial benefits - not felonies.

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11One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


You are one twisted piece of S%^t.

Do you actually have a single ounce of real fact anywhere or just more of your senseless drivel, caustic opinion and made-up recollections about a school and area you clearly know nothing about.

Next time you have a thought, do us all a favor and let it go - will ya.

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12dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Why is everyone so sad that JT got caught? He admitted his guilt by resigning. If you aren't guilty, you DON'T resign. What is he afraid of? He must have known all along, but figured it could ALL be hushed up, like when he was @YSShrew.......that place needs to learn the truth WILL surface and they just can't keep hiding/sweeping 'stuff' under the carpet..........crime does NOT pay......guess the ethics training he got at the Shrew followed JT south.....I heard they r making everyone attend training on 'ethics' at the shrew.....WoW! they want to tell folks about ethics? OMG!!! What an instiution of 'higher' learning......from what this paper prints, there is no one there at the shrew with an ounce of ethics in the whole bunch of them.....very sad

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