Jim Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years, resigned yesterday 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 morning. "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.
Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch said he was unaware of any buyout or severance package. He added that Tressel had returned from vacation Sunday night and met with athletic director Gene Smith, who then met with staff. Tressel typed his resignation and submitted it to Smith, he said.
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 3 months after Ohio State called a news conference to announce it has 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 local tattoo-parlor owner.
Ohio State released a letter from school president E. Gordon Gee to the university's board of trustees which said, "As you all know, I appointed a special committee to analyze and provide advice to me regarding issues attendant to our football program. In consultation with the senior leadership of the university and the senior leadership of the board, I have been actively reviewing the matter and have accepted coach Tressel's resignation."
Tressel's downfall came with public and media pressure mounting on Ohio State.
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 9 months.
The 58-year-old Tressel had a record of 106-22 at Ohio State.
Tressel signed off on his resignation letter by saying, "We know that God has a plan for us and we will be fine. We will be Buckeyes forever."
In a related development, the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the NCAA and Ohio State are looking into whether star quarterback Terrelle Pryor received cars and other extra benefits. Pryor, who will be a senior this fall, has already been interviewed at least once by investigators, the paper reported.
Pryor and four other players have been suspended for the first five games this fall in the tattoo-shop scandal.
Investigators are also looking into Pryor's relationship with a businessman in his hometown, Ted Sarniak, who has served as his mentor. Sarniak was a prominent player in the recruitment of Pryor.