COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State's 2010 Big Ten championship, its 12-1 season, its victories over rival Michigan and in the Sugar Bowl — all gone. Coach Jim Tressel is out and so is star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Left behind: two years of self-imposed probation.
The question now is whether it will be enough to save Ohio State football from more severe penalties in an upcoming trip to see the NCAA committee on infractions.
In response to NCAA violations committed by football players who traded autographs and memorabilia for cash and tattoos — and by a coach who covered it up — Ohio State issued its official response on Friday. Athletic director Gene Smith hoped it would appease the NCAA ethics police.
The measures taken by the school included vacating all the Buckeyes' wins from last season, a year in which Ohio State captured a record-tying sixth straight Big Ten title and won an unprecedented seventh straight game over Michigan.
"All I know is that this is significant," Smith said. "A lot of people may not view it that way externally, but this is significant. When you think about all the other athletes who participated in those games, those records will be gone....
"Might the NCAA do more? I just can't speculate on that."
Tressel found out in April 2010 that his players were taking improper benefits from a local tattoo-parlor owner. Despite contractual and NCAA obligations to report it, he didn't tell anyone at the university or the NCAA for more than nine months. And what was just a five-game suspension for five players suddenly blossomed into a major violation that included a coach knowingly playing ineligible players throughout the 2010 season.
"Coach Tressel acknowledged that when he received the information, he knew the players could not sell the memorabilia or receive preferential treatment," Tressel said through his attorney in response to the allegations. "He also understood that the university policy called for him to notify the compliance office regarding possible violations. He has explained his thinking at the time, but offers no excuses here for his decisions."
In a reversal, Ohio State — which earlier said it had asked for Tressel's resignation on May 30 — said Friday it had now agreed to allow him to call it a retirement. The school also said he did not have to pay a $250,000 fine levied against him for his actions. On top of that, Tressel will receive the last month of his base pay ($54,000), has agreed to cooperate when Ohio State goes before the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12, and both he and the university agreed that they wouldn't sue each other.
Just last month Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee vowed that Tressel "will pay the fine."
The response to the NCAA doesn't mean Ohio State's woes are over. The governing body for college sports could still impose tougher sanctions, such as a ban on postseason play and a reduction in scholarships. The NCAA is expected to hand down its sanctions six to eight weeks after the August hearing.