Staff report


It is improbable that Jim Tressel was not aware of football program violations that occurred during his tenure as Youngstown State University’s head coach, according to a Sports Illustrated investigation.

Tressel on Monday resigned as head coach at Ohio State just hours before the magazine released new allegations associated with the tattoo-for-memorabilia scandal. The magazine alleges as many as 28 players sold memorabilia for tattoos.

The SI article that appeared online Monday night and will be available in print today also retraces the YSU scandal. In February 2000, 11 months before OSU hired Tressel, YSU acknowledged football violations and announced self-imposed sanctions.

“What bothered me was that the family knows,” retired YSU President Leslie Cochran reportedly told SI. “Inside the family, everyone knows what’s going on.”

YSU hired Tressel in December 1985.

“In 1990, with hometown hero Ray Isaac under center, the Penguins went undefeated in the regular season. In ‘91, they won the Division I-AA national title,” journalist George Dorhmann wrote in the SI piece.

In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Mickey 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 Youngstown State, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus’ associates and employees, the article states.

In January 1994, the NCAA’s director of enforcement sent Cochran a letter about Isaac driving a car provided by a local business, which would turn out to be Phar-Mor; 13 Penguins had jobs with Phar-Mor during the season, in violation of NCAA rules; and nonscholarship student athletes were being illegally paid by the university’s director of athletic development, the article continues.

YSU announced self-imposed sanctions in 2000, and the NCAA allowed YSU to keep its 1991 national title.

“I’m sad because he’s such a good guy and he’d do anything for you,” said Dan Wathen, the strength and conditioning coach at YSU during Tressel’s tenure.

The article skewered the credibility of Ohio State’s program by alleging that from the fall of 2002 through 2010, as many as 28 Ohio State players may have have traded or sold memorabilia, a violation of NCAA rules.

“It is a staggering number, a level of wrongdoing that would seem hard to miss for a coach and an entire athletic department, one that includes an NCAA compliance staff of at least six people,” Dorhmann wrote.

“Yet the university trusted the coach, and the coach says he knew nothing before April 2010, when the Columbus lawyer tipped him off in an e-mail.”

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