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Scandal-ridden Tressel resigns from Ohio State

| Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jim Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years, resigned under pressure Monday amid NCAA violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal that sullied the image of one of the country's top football programs.

"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel wrote in the resignation letter he submitted yesterday. "The recent situation has been a distraction for our great university, and I make this decision for the greater good of the school."

Luke Fickell will be the coach for the 2011 season. He already had been selected to be the interim coach while Tressel served a five-game suspension for the scandal, which encompassed several players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette. Pryor. who is slated to sit out the first five games of this season as punishment, is the subject of an NCAA inquiry.

Pryor couldn't be reached for comment, but Jeannette football coach Roy Hall said he spoke with the quarterback yesterday.

"He really didn't want to talk about it," said Hall, Pryor's quarterback coach at Jeannette. "He did express his disappointment with what happened."

Hall also is the uncle of Ohio State running back Jordan Hall, another Jeannette product.

"I got to know him through Terrelle's and Jordan's recruitment," Roy Hall said. "I'm sure he's doing this to protect the university."

Under terms of Tressel's contract, which was worth around $3.5 million a year through the 2014 season, Ohio State is not required to pay him any money or provide any benefits upon his resignation.

The resignation comes nearly three months after Ohio State announced it had suspended Tressel for two games -- later increasing the ban to five games to coincide with the players' punishment -- and fined him $250,000 for knowing his players had received improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner.

Tressel's resignation could affect some WPIAL players. Woodland Hills linebacker Ejuan Price signed with Ohio State in February. He was torn between Ohio State and Pitt before signing with the Buckeyes after calling Tressel. To leave Ohio State, he'd have to ask the university to release him from his national letter of intent.

"I may think about it for a while," Price said.

Price, who also was recruited to Ohio State by Fickell, wasn't surprised by Tressel's resignation.

"It was just a matter of time," he said. "I thought he'd do it during the middle of the summer, though, when all the recruits had already come in (to campus)."

Hopewell running back Rushel Shell, ranked the nation's No. 11 recruit by, once considered the Buckeyes one of the frontrunners. He visited Columbus for the Ohio State-Michigan game last year and spent time on the Buckeyes sideline.

But the NCAA sanctions caused Shell to lose interest in Ohio State.

"You don't want to go to a school your freshman year and them be on probation," he said. "Then you can't go to bowl games. I still have my eye on them, but they're not as big as what they used to be."

The 58-year-old Tressel had a record of 106-22-0 at Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to eight Bowl Championship Series games in his 10 years. Combined with a 135-57-2 record in 15 years at Youngstown State, where he won four Division I-AA national championships, Tressel's career mark was 241-79-2.

Tressel and Ohio State were to go before the NCAA's infractions committee Aug. 12 to answer questions about the player violations and why Tressel did not report them. He denied knowledge of improper benefits to players until confronted by investigators with emails that showed he had known since April 2010.

After several NCAA violations by him or his players over the years, Tressel's problems deepened after learning several players received cash or discounted tattoos. Contrary to NCAA bylaws -- and his own contract -- Tressel received emails from a former player about this and did not tell his athletic director, university president, compliance or legal departments or the NCAA for more than nine months.

The players sold memorabilia such as championship rings, uniforms and in the case of Pryor, a Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award, for cash or discounted tattoos at a Columbus parlor.

A 10-day investigation by Ohio State resulted in the self-imposed five-game penalties and the players repaying the money they gained to charity. The NCAA allowed the players to play in the Sugar Bowl.

Tressel learned that Pryor and wide receiver DeVier Posey were involved in the memorabilia deals when he received an email from lawyer Christopher Cicero, a former Ohio State walk-on and letterman in the 1980s, in April 2010.

Additional Information:

Local reaction

Local reaction on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel stepping down:

'Sad day to be a Buckeye. Coach Tressel you will be missed. No one understands what that man has taught me and done for me.' -- Cameron Hayward , Steelers first-round draft pick and former Ohio State defensive lineman

'You have done a tremendous amount for us as football players but more importantly developing us as men.' -- Andrew Sweat , Ohio State senior linebacker and Trinity High School graduate

'Ohio State is losing a great man, a great mentor and a great coach.' -- Roy Hall , Jeannette football coach and former quarterback coach for Terrelle Pryor

'He's a great guy. I'm sure he just made a bad decision. Everbody makes bad decisions. He was trying to protect his players -- that's what I think. I don't look at him any different than I did before. He's still a good guy to me.' -- Ejuan Price , Woodland Hills linebacker and Ohio State recruit

'He was a nice guy. You could tell he knew a lot about football. He wanted to win.' -- Rushel Shell , Hopewell Area running back and one of nation's top recruits

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