Report: Coach got tip from ex-Buckeye

Updated: March 10, 2011, 8:52 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

A former Ohio State football player is the lawyer who sent e-mails to coach Jim Tressel to warn him players were selling memorabilia to a tattoo-parlor owner, the Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday.

Tressel failed to disclose the e-mails, sent by Columbus lawyer Christopher T. Cicero, and will serve a university-imposed two-game suspension and pay a $250,000 fine, the newspaper reported.

Cicero lettered in football at Ohio State in 1983. Tressel was an assistant coach under Earle Bruce at the time. Cicero was a walk-on linebacker.

In a statement released Wednesday Cicero says he voluntarily cooperated when an Ohio State attorney asked him to meet with university representatives and the NCAA about e-mails he exchanged with Tressel.

Cicero's history as a lawyer is checkered, the newspaper reported. Among other issues, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended Cicero's law license for one year in 1997 after he was found to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and of failing to maintain a respectful attitude toward the courts.

Tressel received an e-mail last April telling him that two of his players were caught up in a federal drug-trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia, breaking NCAA rules.

Tressel responded: "I will get on it ASAP."

But he never mentioned it to Ohio State's compliance department or his athletic director for more than nine months.

On Tuesday, Tressel was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about the players' involvement. He also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology.

The NCAA is still investigating and could reject Ohio State's self-imposed penalties and add more sanctions.

"Obviously I'm disappointed that this happened at all," Tressel said on Tuesday. "I take my responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously and for the game of football. I plan to grow from this. 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."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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