OSU recommended to the NCAA Tressel be suspended for two games and be fined $250,000 after the school's probe determined he knew six of his players were selling memorabilia to a tattoo-parlor owner in violation of NCAA rules but did nothing to stop it.
The school said e-mails to and from Tressel showed the coach had been made aware of the situation by someone, but the person's identity was redacted in documents made public.
The Dispatch, citing three separate sources, identified the informant as former OSU football player and Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero.
The newspaper said Cicero, 54, lettered in football at Ohio State as a walk-on linebacker and later obtained a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law.
The attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cicero has had a checkered legal career, the Dispatch reported. A mistrial was declared in a 2002 case when he was accused of hitting a client.
Cicero denied the accusation, the newspaper said.