Honestly, we'd rather not write about Ohio State as much as we have lately. Penn State basketball is beginning a new era, Joe Paterno is healthy/using Skype and the baseball team is now producing MLB prospects on a regular basis. This summer is off to a nice start in the Penn State universe, and really, we should be talking more about that.
Unfortunately, when news like what's below is breaking in the wake of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor's respective decisions to leave Ohio State, well, it's hard to act like it's not going on.
COLUMBUS -- Terrelle Pryor, who announced through his attorney Tuesday that he would bypass his senior season at Ohio State, made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10, a former friend who says he witnessed the transactions has told "Outside the Lines."
The signings for cash, which would be a violation of NCAA rules, occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year, the former friend says. The source spoke to ESPN under the condition that his face not be aired on TV and that his name not be published.
Pryor may not have been the first active Buckeye player to collect cash for signatures from [photographer Dennis] Talbott. The parent of one former Ohio State player told "Outside the Lines" that he saw Talbott provide what he called "stacks of money" to active Buckeye players, including a player now in the NFL.
More after the jump.
In addition to Pryor’s past NCAA transgressions, today I confirmed that Ohio State was recently cited by NCAA enforcment officials for dozens of payments Pryor received in past years from a Columbus sports memorabilia dealer that are considered outside of NCAA rules.
The NCAA violations were discovered when the name of the local memorabilia dealer, Dennis Talbott, was seen on checks Pryor was depositing in his personal bank account.
Talboot, who is a professional sports photographer who has shot images appearing at SI.com and ESPN.com, often obtained media credentials from Ohio State in order to gain access to Buckeye football players.
Forget everything that's happened at Ohio State to this point. This alone could get the Buckeyes sanctioned off the face of the planet. And they know this
If Pryor does enter the Supplemental Draft, he would no longer be considered a "student-athlete," removing his obligation to speak with NCAA investigators and officials.
After forcing Jim Tressel to retire last Monday, it's clear that Ohio State as an institution is in full damage-control mode. Pryor's parting from the university removes the highest profile case of NCAA wrongdoing left on the Oho State campus, and, if investigators cannot prove Pryor received additional improper benefits without his cooperation, his exit may have just saved Ohio State from being charged with institutional penalties by the NCAA.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, it looks like there's not only a paper trail, but a jilted former buddy willing to throw the entire program under the bus here. If NCAA investigators get to him, it may not matter if the NCAA can make Pryor talk or not.
And, as Mike just pointed out to me in the virtual BSD newsroom, if Ohio State tries to pin all of this trouble on Pryor, who knows what he'll say in a few years? He has a proclivity for saying some incredibly stupid things. If Ohio State throws him under the bus for these violations, who's to say he won't retaliate and rat out any number of other players and/or administrators?
I've long thought Ohio State would escape the famous "Death Penalty" because of the amount of revenue the school generates. The bigger this scandal gets, though, you have to wonder. With the media
reportedly rumored to be preparing to blow the lid off Oregon, the NCAA might have to think about making some examples out of programs for the sake of the sports' integrity.