In a 15-page letter Ohio State released Friday, the NCAA Enforcement Staff declared itself, the university and former head coach Jim Tressel "in substantial agreement as to the facts of both allegations and that those facts constitute violations of NCAA legislation. There are no remaining issues regarding either allegation. Nonetheless, the enforcement staff believed that a hearing was appropriate, rather than a summary disposition report, due to the nature of unethical conduct involving the head football coach."
Although the saga is still drawing to an official close, much of the damage has already been done as a handful of players face disciplinary action this fall and Tressel was forced into retirement May 30.
The coach lost his job after admitting to withholding from university officials information about potential NCAA violations committed by two of his players. He also signed a compliance form declaring he knew of no potential NCAA violations regarding his program.
The school imposed two years of probation and vacated all wins from the 2010 season, including the Big Ten championship, in anticipation of the NCAA's final ruling.
Additionally, players Mike Adams, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas face five-game suspensions for accepting extra benefits and Jordan Whiting will miss one game. Another player, reportedly Dorian Bell, faces disciplinary action as well. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was facing a suspension before opting to leave school amid allegations of further improprieties in June.
Although Ohio State's self-imposed punishments were received with skepticism by some media believing Ohio State was guilty of further wrongdoing, the NCAA's release seems to indicate the worst is behind the Buckeyes.
A key development from the report is the NCAA's stated belief that no failure to monitor charge was appropriate because it adequately educated the players on the legalities of selling their bowl gifts and team equipment.
Although officials did not specifically inform the players that they were barred from selling their school memorabilia - such as the gold pants charms awarded for wins over Michigan - until 2009, the NCAA Enforcement Staff did not believe that such an omission rose to the level of failure to monitor.
Also of note, the report stated that all but one of the players named in a subsequent media report - likely a scathing Sports Illustrated cover story released shortly after Tressel announced his resignation - had been found innocent of allegations of being involved in the trade of items and/or autographs for cash and discounted tattoos.
Shortly before the release of the response, Columbus TV station WBNS dropped a potential bombshell when it reported Tressel had disclosed more info than previously stated.
The station alleged Tressel told university officials of his knowledge in December during the initial investigation of the players rather than January, as previously reported by the university, admitted by Tressel and accepted by the NCAA.
In response, the school issued a vehement denial.
"The University's filings to the NCAA; Coach Tressel's formal, written response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations on July 8; and the NCAA's own Case Summary received (July 21) all make clear that when Coach Tressel was interviewed by a number of people within the institution on Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, he did not share his knowledge about the NCAA violation.
"As we have previously stated to the public and the NCAA in our filings, Coach Tressel only sought advice from the University in Jan. 2011 - after the university had discovered emails that showed that he had knowledge of the matter and in contradiction of is statements to the University the previous December. That sequence of events is summarized clearly by the NCAA in its Case Summary.
"The University categorically denies anything to the contrary, and such allegations are inconsistent with the conclusions of the NCAA and the University.
"Any attempt to characterize events differently would be unnecessarily damaging, inaccurate and entirely misleading."
Speaking after an Ohio State Board of Trustees meeting on campus, board member Robert H. Schottenstein also expressed dismay the story had seen the light of day.
"The NCAA's case summary unequivocally agreed with our assessment that we had no prior knowledge," Schottenstein said. "I categorically deny it. I think it's wrong, I thin it defames Ohio State University and the individuals who are mentioned and I deeply regret that the story has come out because I just do not believe that it's true."