Jim Tressel told of gear scheme in April

Updated: March 8, 2011, 3:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel was informed that some of his players had sold memorabilia to the owner of a tattoo parlor more than eight months before the school said it was made aware of improper transactions, Yahoo! Sports reports.

The website, citing an unidentified source, reports Tressel received information as early as April 2010 that players were selling items to Edward Rife, who owns Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus, Ohio.

Tressel, university president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith planned to hold a news conference at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the university said.

"We have reported a violation, a perceived violation, that we were having discussions with them [the NCAA] about the best way to handle it," Gee told The Associated Press while at the statehouse for the governor's State of the State speech. "We reported that immediately when we found it."

"We are moving very much forward and I am confident that we will solve these issues," Gee added, according to the Ohio News Network.

Smith is the chairman of the NCAA's Division I men's basketball committee which selects, seeds and brackets the teams for the NCAA tournament. He came back from meetings in New York to address the brewing controversy involving Tressel, who is 106-22 in his 10 years as coach of the Buckeyes.

Smith has said the local U.S. Attorney's office alerted the school on Dec. 7 that some of its players were selling items, such as jerseys and championship rings to Rife.

Soon after, the school opened an investigation and informed the NCAA of the possible rules violations.

On Dec. 23, quarterback Terrelle Pryor was among five players suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season. All the players were allowed to play in Ohio State's 31-26 victory against Arkansas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

If it is proven that Tressel knew about the possible NCAA violations and did not inform Smith or the compliance office, the coach and the program could face more sanctions.

Tailback Dan "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and left tackle Mike Adams, along with Sugar Bowl star Solomon Thomas, a backup defensive end who had the game-clinching interception, were also suspended.

Each player was also made to repay to charity the value of what he gained by swapping their memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

Ohio State is appealing to the NCAA to get the suspensions reduced, although the NCAA's decision to allow the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl drew criticism and questions.

The 58-year-old Tressel's contract, which pays him an estimated $3.5 million per season, requires that he report any -- the word "any" is underlined in the contract -- possible rules or legal infractions immediately.

On his Twitter account, Pryor posted a message early Tuesday morning: "THE Ohio State Buckeyes face and overcome any adversity that comes our way! Brings us closer together As a team. And brings us closer 2 GOD"

Smith was scheduled to meet with television network officials on Tuesday morning, then fly to Indiana for a dinner with the other members of his committee. The 10-person committee will then be sequestered from Wednesday through Sunday afternoon before announcing the tournament brackets.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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