OSU’s Tremblin’ Jimmy Tressel Deliberately and Intentionally Carried Out a Lengthy, Premeditated Coverup

Jermil Martin Goes South:  Jermil Martin, a 230 lb running back with great speed and strength, enrolled at OSU, redshirted, and then got playing time in 2009 because of injuries to backs ahead of him on the chart. And he showed some scary talent.  But that’s not why he’s important, because he’s no longer at OSU. I don’t know where he is. And here’s why he’s worth noting.

SI Says Martin Had Thickest Interaction With Rife: We know now that Tressel got the emails about Tat-gate in April and June 2010, from Atty. Cicero. We’re also learning that Tressel had something like 70 phone calls with Mr. Sarniak, in Jeanette, PA, hometown of Terrelle Pryor, from April to December 2010.  (Sarniak, OSU says, has been a “mentor” to Terrelle Pryor.)  Sports Illustrated also tells us that Jermil Martin may have been the most frequent visitor at Mr. Rife’s controversial tatto parlor.

Martin Goes Down Tressel’s Pipeline: Here’s what makes you stop and think. And bear with me. Tressel goes down to Ashland University in southern Ohio, and makes a speech to a football banquet there, in May 2010, I believe.  Within, let’s say, 4 weeks of his first Cicero email.  And what does he say at the banquet?  Let me quote from an August 14,2010 Lancaster Eagle Gazette article (apologies for tiny font, can’t, for the life of me, change it):

ASHLAND — As Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel was finishing his address during a May banquet at Ashland University, he offered to help the school whenever possible.“Wait,” he quipped, “didn’t I just send you one of our players?”Everyone laughed.Rocco Pentello, a backup safety for the Buckeyes, transferred to Ashland in February and currently is working with the Eagles as the No. 2 quarterback and member of the receiving corps.Apparently, the pipeline from Columbus to Ashland isn’t ending there.Pending completion of a summer school class at Ohio State, running back Jermil Martin could be the latest ex-Buckeye to sign on with the Eagles.Tressel announced earlier this month that Martin was transferring. There were reports he was headed to Youngstown State.Ashland got to him first.

“Coach Tressel told him that he really needs to stop in Ashland,” said AU coach Lee Owens, a one-time OSU assistant. “He stopped on the way to Youngstown and fell in love with the place.”

This is a very intriguing report.  It shows one thing: there is a “pipeline” from Tressel to OSU.  The cozy relationship between Tressel and Ashland University is suggested merely by the fact that Tressel is the featured speaker at the athletics banquet.  And Tressel even says,  “Hey wait a minute, didn’t I just send you a player?”  And he’s quoted as telling Martin that he “really needs to stop in Ashland.”    And there, in mid-August 2010, we have the Lancaster Eagle reporting that Martin is likely to transfer to Ashland. (He didn’t actually transfer until January 2011, though it’s impossible to tell if he enrolled.)
Stop and think about this. Let’s just say, for example, that Tressel — after getting the Cicero emails — decides he’s not only not going to report it to anybody, but he’s going to do whatever he can to “fix” the whole problem himself. Bury it before the NCAA or even OSU administrators can get ahold of it.  So he finds out, let’s say, in April — after all his phone calls with Sarniak, Pryor’s mentor, maybe even after discussions with each of the players involved, one on one, with no record, that in fact — just as SI found out — Jermil Martin is the main guy in this Tat-Gate scandal, in terms of proximity to Rife, amount of pawned memorabilia, or even (god forbid) weed-for-gold pants trades.  What does Tressel do? He gets to Martin, tells him, in so many words, that he “needs to get out of Dodge”, and that he (Tressel) will help him. Tressel then uses his Ashland University “pipeline” influence (that means all it takes is one phone call), and persuades Martin that he has to transfer, because big heat may be coming down.
But Jermil Martin, as I understand it, doesn’t transfer, at least until January 2011.  Who knows why the delay.
Just The Start of Everyone Swimming to Shore:  But also understand the developing MUCH larger context, which Tressel is creating here, and which is later repeated everywhere in the OSU Athletic Admin, and up to and including Gee, and right up to this moment —  just as it plays out in any bureaucracy where some wrongdoing has been committed repeatedly “by one of its’ own”:  everyone is “Rowing to Shore” — trying to distance themselves from the shipwreck, and save their own job. And keep your eye on that context, since it also involves everyone in the operation helping others to swim, or even pulling them out of the water — if that assistance is likely to help the assister survive. ( That, by the way, is the primary motive behind the bad faith set of constant deceptions which pack the “Self-Report” by OSU to the NCAA on March 8, 2011.  More on that in a later filing – we’ll break that down, to show that that filing is a model of prevarication and dissembling. And, as we’ll discuss in a later post, it appears that the NCAA may have that figured out some of that deception.)
But back to Jermil Martin. The NCAA needs to look at that entire transfer scenario.  In May 2010, three months before Tressel signed the NCAA form affirming he knew of no potential NCAA violations in September 2011, and 7 months before he denied, when interviewed in mid-December 2010 by OSU , any knowledge of the Tat-gate facts, Tresael was talking about Martin transferring to Ashland — out of the blue, with no apparent good reason for the transfer.
Here’s why I originally got interested in Jermil Martin.  I saw OSU’s high-minded posturing about “reporting to the NCAA” immediately, in January 2011, some “problems” with Jermil Martin’s eligibility.  That caught my eye. What were the “problems”?  Here’s a juicy question: OSU contends that it happened to discover the Cicero emails on January 13, when it was investigating “another matter.”  Could that have had to do with processing Jermil Martin’s transfer?   But another thought drew me to look into this Martin matter:  OSU emphasized how quickly and affirmatively they moved to report to the NCAA problems with Martin’s eligibility.  They tubed Martin’s career at Ashland, quickly.  But compare how “quickly” they handled Tressel — they dragged their feet as long as they possibly could, before they reported him, then gave him a tiny sanction, then increased that only after pressures and leaks from the outside. He got every break in the book.  Even got to “retire”, eventually, rather than resign or be fired. And  OSU rescinded the $250G fine, and, in the end, paid JT $52G.  All to buy his cooperation in the NCAA matter.  The big shots, earning $3.5 million a year, like Tressel, get treated with kid gloves.  The inner-city black kid with nothing but his bull strength and lightening speed get zapped by OSU.
But back to the overall  picture: The evidence, from emails and phone records, is that Tressel engaged in an incredible “dialogue” with Mr. Sarniak (Pryor’s “mentor” – whatever that means), between Apri 2010 and January 2011. Now, we don’t know the substance of those communications, because OSU has generated a (probably bad faith) objection to producing them. (Remember the history here: at first, they “forgot” to produce them (!)   Then they just plain ignored their existence in their “Self Report” to the NCAA on March 8.  (If those two “omissions” were the result of advice given by “The Compliance Group”, then that outfit might want to re-jigger its’ name.) Whatever the case, ESPN has an action pending to obtain the Sarniak emails, and teh NCAA, in its Notice of Inquiry of April 25, has shown a VERY strong interest in seeing those. And that’s because they have figured out what we have here:  that the sheer number of email and phone contacts between Tressel and Sarniak suggests two things:  1) Not just one “pre-emptive” effort to influence one witness (which is what the NCAA got so worked up about in last week’s GT decision) — but MANY efforts/contacts to perhaps influence MANY witnesses (i.e., all the Tat-gate players; and 2) The strong likelihood that the Sarniak contacts are a tip of an iceberg of a long, pre-meditated, and carefully executed plan and set of actions undertaken by Tressel to BURY the problem. from April 2010 through the time they literally had to beat it out of him , 9 months later, in January 2011.
(Background: Georgia Tech was sanctioned last week by the NCAA for using a “pre-emptive” interview of a central witness, to “coach” that witness on what to say. (And also blowing off an explicit order not to do so.) What the press has ignored about Tressel’s scheming is how much time he had to “arrange”, just as carefully as possible, all facts and witnesses, during the NINE MONTHS he hid the violations.  Send Jermil off to Ashland, talk endlessly with Sarniak in Pennsylvania about what Pryor needs to do or not do; make a number of other phone calls; talk with players in person to give them a heads-up. On and on. Plenty of time, plenty of room to maneuver.
But do not despair:  if you read the Notice of Inquiry  filed by the NCAA in late April 2011, in response to the duplicitous, bad faith filing by OSU on March 8 there are several suggestions in there that they are onto the OSU coverup.  This thing is going to spiral downward for OSU

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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