Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice acknowledged to NFL security investigators on Tuesday that he scalped part of his personal allotment of 12 tickets to last month's Super Bowl, a violation of league rules that could result in him being fined or otherwise punished by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"I probably shouldn't have sold my tickets,'' Tice told SI.com on Thursday. "I made a mistake. I regret it. I'll never do it again. I'm going to be in trouble. I'll probably get slapped with a big fine."
The revelation that Tice admitted scalping some of his own Super Bowl tickets comes two days after SI.com first reported that he is being investigated by the NFL for allegedly heading and profiting from a Super Bowl ticket-scalping operation within the Vikings organization.
Two investigators from the league's security staff were in the Twin Cities on Tuesday to question Tice and Vikings running backs coach Dean Dalton about the alleged ticket scalping. In a reported five-hour meeting with the investigators in Tice's office, the head coach admitted he scalped some of the Super Bowl tickets he obtained this year, but denied approaching any Vikings players about scalping their tickets. A Vikings source said Tice maintains that Dalton was the intermediary who dealt directly with the players and the person who purchased their tickets for a California ticket agency.
"I sold some of my tickets this year,'' Tice said. "I did. I told the league that and I told [team owner] Red McCombs that. I'm not going to lie. But if I'm going to be thrown out this year for selling tickets, then I'm a scapegoat. If I'm guilty of anything, I'm guilty of selling some of my tickets. I am not guilty of buying any player tickets since I've been made the head coach [in January 2002].''
Tice has also acknowledged that he scalped Super Bowl tickets as a Vikings assistant coach from 1996-2001, and that he told his assistants this year it was all right for them to sell their Super Bowl tickets to a California ticket agency that he has long dealt with.
Tice acknowledged purchasing 12 Super Bowl tickets from the NFL this year, but he said he did not scalp his entire allotment. Each NFL player and assistant coach has the right to purchase up to two Super Bowl tickets at face value, which this year was $500 and $600 depending on the location of the seat.
According to club sources who have said that Tice was the point man for the scalping operation within the Vikings organization, and has been for years, the tickets scalped by Tice and Dalton this year brought $1,900 each -- a profit of at least $1,300.
The NFL requires all players, coaches, and club personnel who buy Super Bowl tickets to sign a release stating they will not re-sell them at a profit. Asked if Tice's admission to league investigators that he scalped Super Bowl tickets this year ensures that he faces at least a league fine, NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello said, "It'll be up to the commissioner to decide a penalty.''
"But scalping any Super Bowl tickets is a violation of NFL policy,'' Aeillo added, noting that the league has both fined offenders in the past and asked clubs to terminate those employees scalping Super Bowl tickets.
Tice said he has been asked not to speak about the ongoing investigation by both his attorney and McCombs. The Vikings owner issued a statement of support for Tice on Wednesday.
"I answered all the questions that the league asked me honestly in the meeting on Tuesday," Tice said. "Anything from that meeting has to come from the league.''
Dalton also appears to be in line for some kind of punishment from the NFL, and a source with knowledge of the investigation said Dalton acknowledged a role in facilitating the scalping of the players' tickets.
"Dean is going to be the one taking the fall,'' said a former Vikings player from the 2003 team. "Tice was running it all, but he worked it through Dean so it didn't get traced directly to him.''
Tice told SI.com that he in the past introduced Dalton to a representative of the California ticket agency that purchased Tice's Super Bowl tickets this year.