Tice expects 'big fine' for actions

Updated: March 10, 2005, 11:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings head coach Mike Tice acknowledged scalping some of his personal Super Bowl ticket allotment last month in violation of NFL rules, according to a published report.

"I probably shouldn't have sold my tickets," Tice told SI.com in a report posted on the Web site Thursday night. "I made a mistake. I regret it. I'll never do it again. I'm going to be in trouble. I'll probably get slapped with a big fine."

The report contradicts what Tice told ESPN's Chris Mortensen earlier this week.

Tice told Mortensen that he scalped Super Bowl tickets as an assistant coach, but that he did not as the head coach of the Vikings. Tice told Mortensen that he told assistants that it was OK to sell Super Bowl tickets to a ticket agency in California.

Tice told Mortensen that he met with two members of NFL security on Tuesday for five hours as they investigated whether Tice and other Vikings coaches and office personnel scalped Super Bowl tickets. The NFL confirmed Wednesday that it is looking into ticket sales.

According to SI.com, Tice told NFL security investigators that he scalped part of his allotment of 12 tickets to this year's Super Bowl.

"I sold some of my tickets this year," Tice told SI.com. "I did. I told the league that and I told (team owner) Red McCombs that. I'm not going to lie. But if I'm going to be thrown out this year for selling tickets, then I'm a scapegoat. If I'm guilty of anything, I'm guilty of selling some of my tickets. I am not guilty of buying any player tickets since I've been made the head coach (in January 2002)."

Tice acknowledged purchasing 12 Super Bowl tickets from the NFL this year, but he said he did not scalp all of them.

NFL policies prohibit the resale for profit of Super Bowl tickets, priced this year at $500 and $600. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said it would be up to commissioner Paul Tagliabue to determine the penalty.

According to a report on the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Web site, Tice's meeting with NFL officials came five days after an informant, who would not reveal his name, called the league's security office and at least three media outlets -- Sports Illustrated, the New York Daily News and the Star Tribune.

Tice characterized reports of the investigation as a lot of "half-truths and media innuendo" in his conversation with Mortensen. He said the reports were "innuendos that could force me to take legal action."

"If I'm guilty of anything," Tice said, "I am guilty of telling coaches that it's OK to sell their tickets." Tice said he gave the name of the person who purchases the tickets for the California ticket agency to his assistants.

He admitted he had been involved in Super Bowl ticket scalping as an assistant coach -- "just as all the coaches in this league have done."

Tice told SI.com that he had nothing to do with re-selling players' tickets.

Tice told Mortensen that when league security officials left Tuesday, "they felt this was not some big can of worms and told me to make sure all our guys make the proper claims on their IRS forms." Tice said he told the truth to the league and his wife and kids, and he maintains that there is "some former player" out there trying to get him "because there are a lot of lies being told."

A source told Mortensen that Tice identified to NFL security that Vikings assistant Dean Dalton was the designated assistant to deal directly with the person who purchases tickets for the agency. Dalton could not be reached for comment.

Tice said that he has spoken to McCombs about the investigation, and Tice said McCombs told him, "I'm sorry you have to go through this."

"I'm confident when the league finishes looking at this, everything will come out fine," he told SI.com in a report posted Tuesday. "It's a shame assumptions are being made about my role in this. I did not approach any player about Super Bowl tickets as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings."

While the practice of scalping Super Bowl tickets quietly goes on around the league, Minnesota's situation is different because the head coach has been accused of being the orchestrator.

Tice has been Vikings coach since January 2002. But he's been on the sidelines since 1996 when he began coaching Minnesota's tight ends and offensive line.

"This started when [Tice] wasn't the figure he is now," a team source told SI.com. "I can't believe how rampant it's been. Stuff like this has gone on a long time. There's a pretty good amount of people involved. There could be a lot of people affected by this, not just in the NFL's view, but with the IRS as well."

A team source told SI.com that Tice orchestrated the re-selling of players' and team employees' Super Bowl tickets after the Eagles defeated the Vikings in the NFC divisional playoffs.

"Tice has been turning around tickets for years and years," said one player with the Vikings in 2003 to SI.com. "He's been selling them to the same guy. He commits to a certain amount every year."

Another NFL assistant who was once with the Vikings concurred with the notion that this practice is widespread around the league and added that some even rely on it to supplement lower salaries of assistant coaches.

"A lot of teams do it," the assistant told SI.com. "Everybody can do it. Every team has a guy who takes care of moving the tickets. I'd hate to see it end because coaches have always used that as extra money. Coaches do count on that as a little extra deal. [Team] owners will probably stop doing it now, because they don't have to give us those tickets.

"When I was there [in Minnesota], Mike was the guy. He had a guy somewhere who moved the tickets. I just never took him up on it because I was always scared I'd get my ass caught."

Tice is heading into the final year of a contract that ranks him among the NFL's lowest-paid head coaches at $1 million per season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.