Contrary to previous e-mail releases that suggested their contact had been minimal and over the Internet, records obtained by the Columbus Dispatch and reported this morning show Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor's Pennsylvania mentors were in regular phone contact.
After Tressel received an April 2, 2010, email from a former player warning him of potential NCAA violations, the coach exchanged 77 calls and text messages with and spent a total of 4 1/2 hours talking on the phone with Ted Sarniak, the hometown mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor in Jeannette, Pa. ...As part of its investigation, the NCAA is reviewing the nature of Tressel's relationship with Sarniak, who the university claims does not qualify as an Ohio State booster. But in any case, the regular contact between Tressel and Sarniak and Hall will not look good contrasted with the lack of contact between the former Buckeye coach and the OSU compliance department.
Tressel also sent 91 text messages to Roy Hall, the current Jeannette football coach and another of Pryor's mentors. Hall previously told The Dispatch that he was not aware of the investigation and had not talked with Tressel about it.
Tressel also exchanged 31 text messages last Christmas Eve with Christopher Cicero, the Columbus lawyer whose original e-mail to Tressel was the coach's first notification that Buckeye players were receiving tattoo discounts and exchanging Buckeye memorabilia.
The school also released a number of phone records -- including to CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer -- from athletic director Gene Smith, though they show no contact between Smith and Pryor's mentors or Cicero. Fischer reports there is one interesting nugget from the Smith records, however: once the story broke and Smith knew his dpeartment to be facing an NCAA investigation, he put in a call to North Carolina athletic Dick Baddour, whose school will receive its "notice of allegations from the NCAA" as soon as this week.
But as for Tressel, he faces the NCAA in a hearing Aug. 12. Today's revelations won't be the most damning evidence against him--but they won't do a thing to help him avoid NCAA sanctions, either.