COMMENTARY | Just as Ohio State University celebrated its athletic programs earning high marks on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report, some more disturbing news about football coach Jim Tressel has arrived.
The Columbus Dispatch reported the football team scored a 971 APR in the 2009-2010 school year with a four-year average of 985. This figure is higher than the national four-year average of 946. The NCAA annually assesses Division I schools in areas such as grades, retention and graduation rates.
The academic achievement won’t be enough to soften the next expected blow to Tressel’s reputation as the next edition of Sports Illustrated hits the stands Tuesday, May 31.
During the second hour of Tuesday’s “Common Man and The Torg” on Columbus radio station 97.1 The Fan, the hosts reported that “the Sports Illustrated editors are salivating” about the article written by George Dohrmann. The weight of the article hinges on Dohrmann’s reputation as an investigative journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. That article exposed the gamut of academic fraud at the University of Minnesota when he was with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Fans of Ohio State football like me are wondering “What else could Tressel have possibly done?” Fans of Jim Tressel are angry that the national media won’t leave their football deity alone.
Quoting an anonymous source, the radio hosts stated that Dorhmann has made two visits to central Ohio to gather information for the article. One of those visits was reportedly to a prison to speak with an inmate who allegedly worked as a tattoo artist at Dudley’s. The telephone number for Dudley’s Tattoo Shop on West Broad Street in Columbus is no longer in service.
The anonymous source used the words “new,” “big time” and “enlightening” describing the information to be revealed by Dohrmann, including new allegations about Tressel’s years at Youngstown State.
Sports Illustrated isn’t alone in its portrayal of the Ohio State coach as the face of the problems with college football. In the May 30 issue of ESPN the Magazine, the cover portrays a Tressel-esque sweater vest with the familiar Ohio State logo replaced with a curved “Busted.” How long would the university have tried to keep Tressel’s lies a secret had Yahoo! Sports reporters Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel not persisted in uncovering the truth?
Don’t blame the media for the bad attention that is being heaped upon the Ohio State football program. No matter how silly the rule about financial gain from university-issued uniforms and trinkets, the players broke that rule. Those who would shout that Tressel was only protecting his players and his sins are of a lesser degree than, say, Auburn or USC are misguided.
As a fan of college football and the Ohio State Buckeyes, it’s difficult to watch the program being dragged through the mud. However, one bad apple can spoil the whole basket as the rot moves from one apple to the next.
The head coach who has built an image of honor above all has been shown to be a head coach who will hide the facts if it could cost him a win.
The 2010 Big Ten Championship rings were delivered to Ohio State this month. As the possibility of a vacated season looms, did Tressel hand out the rings to his players? Or did he do the honorable thing and put them away until the NCAA makes a ruling on his violations?