- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2011

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin wants to reassure Ohio State fans that things will get better.

“Yep. It has been tough. But Ohio State is more than football,” Griffin said this week after Jim Tressel was forced to resign as head coach in the midst of a widespread NCAA inquiry. “It’s a great university, a lot of great things happening at the university. We will bounce back, no question about it.”

Griffin, 56, is president and CEO of Ohio State’s alumni association. Now 36 years removed from becoming the only player to win college football’s most coveted individual award for a second time, he said there is now a drive to rebuild.

“Ohio State has a wonderful tradition, a great program,” he said. “It’s been proven out over the years. And we’ll continue to have that type of program. We’ll continue to try and put the best players on the field as well as the coaches. So that’s certainly going to be what the powers that be will look to do.”

Tressel was forced to step aside Monday after admitting he knew some of his players had taken improper benefits that would have made them ineligible under NCAA bylaws. He found out in April 2010 about possible violations by his players but did not tell anyone at Ohio State for more than nine months, contrary to his contract and NCAA rules.

Five players _ including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor _ have been suspended for the first five games this fall for taking cash and discounted tattoos from a local tattoo-parlor owner for signed jerseys and gloves, Big Ten championship rings and other memorabilia.

The NCAA and Ohio State continue to investigate all areas of the athletic department, including allegations regarding athletes and their cars and football players receiving improper benefits at the tattoo-parlor.

The athletic department and football team could receive further penalties when Ohio State goes before the NCAA committee on infractions in Indianapolis on Aug. 12.

Another Heisman winner _ this one from archrival Michigan _ said it’s premature to guess at the Buckeyes’ future.

“What’s going to happen to the program? Well, we don’t know if No. 2 (Pryor) is going to line up,” former Michigan star and 1991 Heisman winner Desmond Howard told the Detroit Free Press. “It seems like there’s a lot more that’s happening down there, so I don’t want to right in the middle of things say this is what’s going to happen and then next week we have a new revelation.”

The university’s donors, some of whom had a close relationship with Tressel and his wife, Ellen, are concerned that giving to the larger mission of the university could diminish in the wake of the NCAA scandal.

“Our thoughts were to increase our giving anyway, that’s not going to change, not in any way, shape or form,” said Judy Tuckerman, who with her husband, Steven, is a financial supporter of Ohio State in addition to being friends with the Tressels. “We put our total confidence and trust in Dr. Gee and we think he is an amazing, brilliant, wonderful president. We’re thankful to have him here, this is one piece of a very large university that does great things in research all over the university.

“I am vehement that people don’t take this as looking at the entire university. I’d fight for a long time for that never to happen.”

Tuckerman told The Associated Press that some donors are angry, most are sad and many remain solidly behind the university, which is in the midst of a $2.5 billion fundraising campaign _ the school’s largest ever.

“I have not heard one person say, ‘I’m not giving any more to the university.’ I’ve not heard one person say, ‘We’re diminishing our gift to the university,’” she said. “I think it will make the university stronger.”

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