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“Tressel said he never thought of resigning, and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he never seriously considered firing Tressel for violating his contract, which specifies that he must immediately report any -- the word is underlined in the contract -- information which pertains to violations of NCAA, Big Ten or Ohio State bylaws and rules. "Wherever we end up, Jim Tressel is our football coach," Smith said. "He is our coach, and we trust him implicitly." On April 2, 2010, Tressel received an e-mail from a person he identified only as "a lawyer," who wrote that Ohio State players had been implicated in activities with Eddie Rife, a local tattoo-parlor owner, whom the federal government was investigating on charges of drug-trafficking. The e-mail, released to reporters but with the names redacted, said players were selling signed Buckeyes memorabilia and giving it to Rife in exchange for money and tattoos. Tressel said he allowed the two players cited in the e-mail to play the entire 2010 season because he did not want to "interfere with a federal investigation" and worried that sitting eligible players would raise a "whole new set of questions." The Buckeyes coach said he was trying to protect his players by not breaking the confidentiality of the federal investigation. "Admittedly, I probably did not give quite as much thought to the potential NCAA part of things," he said. Along with Pryor, starting receiver DeVier Posey, leading rusher Dan Herron, offensive lineman Mike Adams and backup defensive lineman Solomon Thomas were suspended for selling memorabilia, but allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl, which the Buckeyes won 31-26 against Arkansas. Shortly after Ohio State returned from New Orleans, the university began reviewing its information on an unrelated legal issue, Smith said Tuesday, and Tressel acknowledged he had not told everything he knew about his players and their relationship with the tattoo parlor and its owner. "I plan to grow from this," Tressel said. "I'm sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and didn't do things as well as I possibly could have." Ohio State president Gordon Gee said he and Tressel had discussed the violation at Gee's house for 3 hours one night. Gee also said he had not considered dismissing the Buckeyes coach. "No, are you kidding?" he said with a laugh. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me." This was not the first time Tressel or his players have run into problems with the NCAA. Ray Isaac, a star quarterback at Youngstown State, accepted improper inducements including cars. Tressel was found to have done an incomplete investigation of those allegations, with Youngstown State later serving penalties. In addition, Maurice Clarett, who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship, and Troy Smith, winner of the 2006 Heisman Trophy, were suspended by the NCAA for receiving money and other benefits from boosters. In May of 2009, The Columbus Dispatch reported that since 2000, Ohio State had reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations -- the most of any of the 69 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided documents to the newspaper through public-records requests. Most of the infractions were minor and resulted in little or no punishment. The Buckeyes open next season with games against Akron and Toledo, likely playing those without their coach and their star quarterback. The team resumed workouts this week -- with all of the suspended players participating, and with Tressel in the middle of practice with a whistle around his neck. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
No, are you kidding? Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me.” -- Ohio State president Gordon Gee on if he considered firing Tressel