It's happening too often in college sports. It happened to Pete Carroll at USC, Gary Barnett at Colorado, Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV, and now Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

They have very successful sports programs, gain national recognition and respect, and then are embarrassed when serious infractions are uncovered.

Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years, and has built a virtual Big 10 dynasty, resigned Monday amid NCAA violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal that sullied the image of one of the country's top football programs.

Tressel is still scheduled to go before the NCAA's committee on infractions in August for lying to the NCAA and then covering it up – the most egregious of sins for a coach in the eyes of college sports' ruling body.

It's one thing to read about college athletes taking shortcuts. After all, the restrictions for athletes are stringent. It's not an excuse, but members of colleges sports teams are still young and have a lot to learn.

For coaches, though, there is absolutely no excuse for infractions like Tressel is alleged to have made. It's pure selfishness. It's the desire to continue coaching greatness at all costs, no matter who is hurt including affected athletes and the schools the coaches represent.

In December, five Ohio State players – including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor – were found to have received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor who was the subject of a federal drug-trafficking case.

All were permitted by the NCAA to play in the Buckeyes' 31-26 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, with suspensions to begin with the first game of the 2011 season.

After the team returned from New Orleans, Ohio State officials began preparing an appeal of the players' sanctions. It was then that investigators found that Tressel had learned in April 2010 about the players' involvement with the parlor owner, Edward Rife.

Some Ohio State fans will argue Tressel's penalty. But the NCAA has rules against payments to athletes in place for a reason. Tressel was allegedly made knowledgable of things that were done wrong. He chose to ignore the infractions.

No coach is above the rules. Not even a coach which had commanded so much respect and success as Tressel.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com