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Friday, March 11, 2011

Jim Tressel Received Death Threats

His lawyer says he's received death threats.

The Columbus lawyer who sent e-mails to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel last April about players selling memorabilia said he gave Tressel the names of two players -- starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and receiver DeVier Posey -- in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

Christopher Cicero, a walk-on player for the Buckeyes in the early 1980s, said in his first interview that it has been a stressful time since his name and e-mails to Tressel were revealed.

A fan of the Buckeyes' program, Cicero said he doesn't want to be considered the "Judas" in the controversy, and added he has received some death threats in the past few days.

Tressel did not turn over the names to the university or to the NCAA after he received the first e-mail from Cicero April 2, 2010. On Tuesday, Ohio State officials announced that they will suspend Tressel for the first two games this upcoming season and fine him $250,000.

The NCAA is investigating and could levy further sanctions against Tressel and the program. Six players have been suspended for games next season, including Pryor and Posey, who are among five players who will miss five games. One player will miss one game.

Cicero also said he doesn't know of any other possible NCAA violations by Ohio State players, other than selling memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo parlor owner who has been under a federal drug investigation. Tressel has said he didn't report the e-mails from Cicero because he considered them to be "confidential."

Cicero said when he asked Tressel to keep the e-mails confidential, he meant that he would not go to the media or the public, not that Tressel couldn't inform the school or launch his own investigation.

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 said 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.

In April 2010, Tressel received an e-mail from Cicero 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.

Cicero's history as a lawyer is checkered, the Columbus Dispatch 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.

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