Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

Almost from the moment it broke last December, the Ohio State "Tatgate" scandal has cost the Buckeyes at every turn. Initially, it cost them four senior starters for the first five games of the upcoming season for allegedly exchanging autographs and memorabilia for cash and free ink. Personally, it's cost Tressel the same five games on top of a $250,000 fine and a tarnished reputation for remaining silent and then actively covering up his knowledge of the violations. Eventually — depending on the mercurial response of the NCAA — it may cost the Buckeyes their Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas in January, most or all of their 11 regular-season wins in 2010 and/or future scholarships and bowl games.

For the moment, though, the ongoing internal investigation is mainly costing the athletic department a boatload of money:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday that the $250,000 fine levied against coach Jim Tressel for violating NCAA rules may not even cover the cost of the investigation.

"It'll probably eat up the whole $250 (thousand)," Smith said. "I'm not sure. We haven't done any projections."

[…]

Smith would not say how much the investigation into Tressel's NCAA troubles would cost, although the university has hired two what he called "expensive" companies to help. He said Ohio State may have to make up the difference by dipping into the money the Buckeyes made from their appearance in the Sugar Bowl.

"It's a nightmare," he said.

Smith also admitted that he had to rope Tressel into a public apology on March 14, a full week after the coach failed to say "I'm sorry" as planned on March 7, the night he, Smith and university president Gordon Gee held a press conference to come clean about the emails Tressel received alerting him to potential violations months before the start of the season.

Unlike certain other people closely monitoring the Senator's status from the outside, I still refuse to believe his job is in any real jeopardy until the NCAA comes down with the same hammer it used to wallop USC last year, or until the Buckeyes stop landing in BCS bowls every single year. But an athletic director who's beginning to sound more than a little perturbed by the whole business isn't exactly a vote of confidence if it comes to that, is it?

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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