Tag:Ohio State Investigation
Posted on: May 30, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 5:56 am
 

Report: Significant NCAA investigation of Pryor

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Ohio State football community was rocked early Monday with the news of Jim Tressel's resignation as the head football coach. This may end up being a Memorial Day that Buckeyes fans would rather forget, particularly if star quarterback Terrelle Pryor ends up receiving further punishment for receiving impermissible benefits.

Trouble at OSU

The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday afternoon that the NCAA and Ohio State are conducting an independent investigation of Terrelle Pryor, according to sources close to the situation. The school would not confirm whether Pryor is being investigated, but sources informed the Dispatch that this is the "most significant inquiry to date." Pryor has been questioned by OSU compliance officials before, but after seeing Tressel's tale come to a screeching halt there is plenty of reason for concern in Pryor's case.

Pryor has already been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling or exchanging memorabilia for cash and tattoos, so it is hard to imagine any good ending to further investigation. Since that December suspension, more details have emerged that tie Pryor to different automobiles and signed uniforms.

With all the buzz around Pryor, particularly with rumors of more Ohio State related information to be released in the coming days, it is not unlikely to imagine that Pryor may have played his final game in a Buckeyes uniform.


Posted on: May 27, 2011 7:25 pm
 

Salesman: OSU associate AD called 'over 50 times'

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier this month, the world learned of Aaron Kniffin, the car salesman who allegedly sold cars to dozens of former and current Ohio State football players. Kniffin, if you'll recall, told reporters that the Ohio State compliance department directed its players to him on a routine basis, and that it reviewed the sales before they were made final. That doesn't sound terrible in and of itself, but those transactions are currently under investigation by the school and independent investigators, looking for any improper sales that may run afoul of NCAA regulations.

Interestingly, the Ohio State director of compliance, Doug Archie, denied Kniffin's account of events and said he had only talked to Kniffin once, that his office never reviews sales documents, and that his office never refers players to certain car dealerships.

Kniffin is not backing down from his claims, however. In an interview with the Sporting News published this afternoon, Kniffin puts the number of times he's talked to Archie a little higher than "one"; let's try "well over 50," in fact:

“Doug Archie has called me well over 50 times,” Kniffin said. “This year alone, I’ve talked to him 25-30 times. You can print out your Verizon (phone) bills; his numbers are right there calling me.”

When asked why Archie, who did not immediately respond to voice mail messages, said he only spoke to Kniffin once and denied that the deals were approved by OSU compliance, Kniffin said, “That’s something you’ll have to ask him. I’ve got records of it.”

Kniffin says he also has a copy of an affidavit he signed for Archie detailing the sales process, and stating no NCAA violations occurred during the process. That affidavit, Kniffin says, was sent to him by Archie four days after the May 7 story appeared in The Dispatch outlining potential NCAA violations.

Kniffin says the Ohio State compliance department—“either Doug Archie or Chris (Rogers)”—approved every co-signer on every loan, and knew every person associated with the deals.

Now, Kniffin is not alleging that any impropriety occurred, so it's not as if he's trying to bring down Ohio State or is clearly satisfying some sort of ulterior motive. Archie also stated earlier that he has "no reason to believe a violation has occurred," so it appears at this point that this investigation is more due diligence than anything else.

The fact that Archie appears to be misrepresenting his relationship with Kniffin is absolutely troubling, though. It's the behavior of someone with something to hide, and the NCAA usually doesn't care much for people who hide information from it. Of course, Archie made his statements to the Columbus Dispatch and not NCAA officials, but if what Kniffin is describing is true -- that Archie's compliance department checked out Kniffin's dealerships and made sure everything was on the up and up, why on earth wouldn't Archie make that known? If there are no violations, after all, then Kniffin's story makes Ohio State's compliance department look orders of magnitude more competent than how Archie characterizes it.  

Still, it must be reiterated that Archie had better hope like crazy that the investigation definitively uncovers no wrongdoing, because the alternative is an absolute nightmare for Ohio State. If Kniffin's allegations that Ohio State funneled athletes to these dealerships are correct -- and generally, the first person to offer to produce a paper trail is telling the truth -- and if there are untoward deals being made, then this is a situation where a NCAA member's compliance department is directing its athletes to break NCAA compliance rules, and that would be an outright sham. Still a lot of ifs in that situation... for now.

Posted on: May 27, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Don't expect changes at Ohio State anytime soon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It seems as though the NCAA troubles at Ohio State have taken more twists than the latest episode of General Hospital, with a new story seemingly popping up every day. The latest twist seems to come from former Buckeye Ray Small denying many of his comments to the Ohio State student newspaper, The Lantern, about multiple student-athletes selling memorabilia and receiving discounts on cars. Small's story is just another thing for some fans to shake their heads at in the nearly five months since violations involving the so-called 'Buckeye Five' were brought to light.

“There are no other NCAA violations around this case,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a Dec. 23, 2010 press conference. “We’re very fortunate we do not have a systemic problem in our program. This is isolated to these young men, isolated to this particular incident. There are no other violations that exist.”

As time has passed from that presser however, Smith has seen several other damaging stories about additional violations - head coach Jim Tressel lying to about his knowledge of the case being the biggest - since then. It's quite possible that even more could come out before the school's August 12th hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Several alumni, fans and media members have publicly called for the resignation of some of Ohio State's leadership - particularly Smith and Tressel - as a way to stave off possible sanctions. That, however, doesn't appear to be on the table in the near future based on documents obtained Friday by the Associated Press and CBSSports.com.

Although the school declined to turnover communications from Tressel to administrators involving quarterback Terrelle Pryor (citing privacy laws), they did release several documents that pointed to Smith's standing in the athletic department.

More on Ohio State
"You are doing an excellent job leading the department of athletics and achieving national prominence. It is truly a privilege to work with you," University president E. Gordon Gee wrote in Smith's most recent performance review. "I want to strongly state - with great emphases - that I consider you a role model for leaders as to living the institutional values, incorporating the culture principles, and creating one of the highest performing organizations on campus.

"Over time we will reach the point where I recognize your University leadership role with a Vice President title."

Gee's comments, written in August of last year, seem to channel his thinking with Tressel and speak to both leaders' stature at the school despite being at the center of the controversy in Columbus.

“No, are you kidding me? I’m just hopeful that the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” Gee said during a March press conference.

While widely mocked about the comment, it appears it's very reflective of Gee's thinking about the Buckeyes head coach and the documents released today seem to reflect the same about Smith. Tressel's performance evaluation was done verbally and thus, was not able to be requested.

There's still plenty of time between today and the school having to explain themselves to the Committee on Infractions. It seems hard, however, to fathom that Gee will make a move against either Smith or Tressel in the meantime.




Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 7:26 pm
 

Ray Small changes his story - UPDATE

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday former Ohio State wide receiver Ray Small caused quite a stir in the college football world when he told Ohio State's student newspaper The Lantern that "everybody" was selling memorabilia and getting deals on cars while at Ohio State. As you'd expect, this brought a lot of blowback for Small from both current and former Buckeyes along with Ohio State fans.

Well, surprise, surprise, Small is suddenly changing his tune. In an interview with WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Small says that The Lantern "flipped" his words.

"It's hard being an athlete," Small said. "That was basically what I was saying. (The Lantern author) just flipped my words around and make the whole Buckeye Nation hate me."

Small went on to say that The Lantern got the majority of the story wrong.

The Lantern denied Small's allegation, Aker reported.

"We, 100 percent, stand by our story," said Lantern Editor Zach Meisel. "Everything (Small) said was recorded."

Small was quoted in The Lantern article and said that some players "don't even think about NCAA rules."

How convenient for Small. It's somewhat hard to believe that the original story could "flip" the words that Small said. I mean, if all he was trying to say was that it is hard being an athlete then all Small had to say was "it's hard being an athlete." He didn't have to talk about how easy it was to sell memorabilia for some extra cash, or about how getting deals on cars isn't that big of a deal. He also didn't need to say that there was "a lot [of dirt] on everybody." I mean, these are incredibly abstract ways to say "being an athlete is hard" aren't they?

I don't think anybody flipped Small's words at all. I just think that Small didn't think about the type of reaction his words would receive and he now regrets saying anything and is just trying to dig himself out of a hole.

UPDATE: Did The Lantern really "flip" Small's words around? Well, the paper released audio of the interview. You decide. 

Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:04 am
 

Delany: Ohio State interest is 'not positive'

Posted by Chip Patterson

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany found himself in Seattle last August, standing beside Michigan as they faced the NCAA Committee on Infractions for violations under former head coach Rich Rodriguez. However, it is not hard to figure out that the pressure on the conference is much more substantial as Ohio State prepares for their meeting with the COI on Aug. 12 in Indianapolis. Delaney spoke to AnnArbor.com at the Big Ten spring meetings on Tuesday, only mentioning that the Ohio State scandal has generated "a lot of interest," and not the positive kind of interest.

“It’s a difficult set of facts and a difficult circumstance,” Delany said. “In due respect, I think the facts are known and we have a hearing date and we’ll go to a hearing and we’ll answer the questions and present the case and the NCAA will make a determination. And that’s the juncture at which time you’ll be able to absorb sort of exactly what it means in the short and the long term.

“Right now, to me, it’s just talking about something well in advance.”

That difficult set of facts and circumstances are ones that leave very little room for reasonable doubt when it comes to Jim Tressel's negligence in reporting potential violations. Tressel has been present at the Big Ten meetings, but has not spoken with the media since his arrival. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is also present at the meetings, but he too has steered clear of the media. Since the NCAA sent their notice of allegations in April, the future of Ohio State football has been murky, at best, for Tressel and Co. I think if you Buckeye fans for their opinion on the situation, their response will likely be very similar to Delany.
Posted on: May 15, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Ohio State hasn't received gold pants yet

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Every year that Ohio State beats Michigan the Ohio State Gold Pants Club gives out gold pants charms to the players, coaches and everyone involved with Ohio State football. Well, nearly six months after Ohio State beat Michigan last season, the Gold Pants Club is yet to give the team its reward. Though it's not because the pants aren't ready yet, it's because nobody is quite sure what to make of the 2010 season just yet.

According to the club president and former Ohio State lineman, Jim Lachey, it's because Ohio State is "dealing with some outstanding issues we've never had to deal with before." That's what Lachey told the Columbus Dispatch, and of course, those "outstanding issues" is the investigation currently taking place at Ohio State. An investigation that, ironically enough, began with Ohio State players trading previous pairs of gold pants for tattoos.

Lachey says there are a few reasons why they don't want to hand out the pants yet, and it's not just because the win against Michigan could be vacated.

"If they vacate the win, it makes no sense to award the gold pants, at least in our minds," Lachey told the paper. "And if you hand them out and say, 'Oh yeah, we'll need to get them back if the win is vacated' - I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a smart way to go.

"And I'll be honest: We don't want to see any 2010 gold pants on the market right now."

Ouch. Not even Ohio State booster clubs trust the players anymore. Lachey also said that the club is considering the idea of holding on to all pairs of the pants until each player has run out of eligibility. In other words, if an Ohio State player beats Michigan four times during his college career, after his senior season, then he'll receiver all four pairs. At least that way, if the player does decide to sell them, it won't affect the football program.
 
Photo courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch 

Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 12:34 pm
 

For OSU, legitimacy of athletic dept. at stake

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's easy to see a headline about Ohio State investigating car deals for its players and automatically assume the worst. Now that the NCAA is already preparing to bring OSU before the dreaded Committee on Infractions for the tattoo scandal and coverup, it's easier to figure that an investigation's going to uncover more bad news.

It's not that simple, though. While this investigation might not uncover any wrongdoing by the embattled Ohio State athletic department or its players, it also might place the very legitimacy of the compliance department at stake.

As the Columbus Dispatch reported today, Ohio State's chief enforcer of NCAA rules is opening an investigation into dozens of car purchases by players and their relatives from two Columbus-area dealerships (both of whom employed salesman Aaron Kniffin), looking for any evidence of special discounts or other impermissible benefits. While it seems like that's a good thing to investigate, seeing the potential for impropriety in large-value transactions, the real issue here is that according to the dealers and salesman under investigation, the deals were already reviewed the first time around by OSU associate athletic director Doug Archie and his compliance department:

Both dealers, whose businesses are not connected, say they routinely call Archie's office when an athlete is ready to buy a car, provide the purchase price and discuss who will co-sign on a loan. Archie said he relies on the car dealers to provide accurate information.

"I'm not a car expert. We have to rely on their integrity and their word when it comes to selling a car," he said. Ohio State runs "spot checks" on some transactions against the Kelley Blue Book value.

Kniffin told The Dispatch that he has sold cars to at least four dozen OSU athletes and their relatives, that the OSU compliance staff directed them to him, and that university officials reviewed all documents before sales were final.

Archie said that he has spoken to Kniffin only once, never reviews sales documents and has not directed players to any dealerships.

Now, this would seem to be little more than a discussion about procedure if it weren't for the fact that according to public records, OSU lineman Thaddeus Gibson "bought" a two-year-old Chrysler for $0 from Kniffin. Gibson and Kniffin both deny that the price listed on the title was the actual sale price, but $0 seems to be what they're telling the government. That's a discrepancy for which the IRS, NCAA, and OSU compliance department are all going to need a lot of explanation.

The Dispatch also found multiple car loans to Terrelle Pryor, including Kniffin's own for a trip back to Pennsylvania for three days. Indeed, four of the six players suspended in the tattoo scandal also purchased cars from Kniffin. Perhaps that's just mere coincidence, and perhaps all four car sales were legitimate and above board. It's undeniable that there's cause for concern, however.

Worse, perhaps there are more questionable transactions yet to be found in the investigation. Perhaps there's not. Only time will tell there, obviously. The fact remains, though, that Ohio State needs to make it clear just how much oversight they were providing with regards to players and their families buying these cars, and how impermissible purchases -- if any -- were allowed to proceed.

There's a very, very bad worst-case scenario here for Ohio State. It's got a lot of ifs, so it's not terribly likely, but it's not out of the realm of plausibility. IF there were special discounts being given out, and IF the compliance department was reviewing sales documents, and IF that office was also directing players to those dealerships, THEN Ohio State would basically have been running a sham of a compliance department. That's a lack of institutional control nonpareil. Again, that's a worst-case scenario, and one that OSU's director of compliance has already denied, but these are the stakes at play here.

That, in fact, is what makes this potential scandal so pernicious: it has little, if anything, to do with Jim Tressel and the previous scandal. Indeed, what was most striking about the allegations levied against Tressel was that they didn't implicate OSU as a whole, leaving open the possibility that OSU could paint Tressel as a rogue coach operating in flagrant defiance of his contract, fire him, and wash their hands of the matter. But here, the possibility exists that players were getting the green light from the compliance department to break compliance rules. That's something that simply firing Tressel isn't going to sweep under the rug.

Again, that's just the worst-case scenario. Ohio State fans had better hope it doesn't come true.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: April 27, 2011 10:25 am
 

Jim Tressel could lose $3.7M if fired

Posted by Chip Patterson

Ever since the release of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations to Ohio State, much of the focus of Tattoogate has shifted from the program and directly on head coach Jim Tressel.  The NCAA said Tressel "failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics" when he did not notify school officials of the possible violations associated with the tattoo parlor.  

The heat on Tressel has raised a question of whether he might be fired, or resign because of these new developments.  According to the Dayton Business Journal, Tressel getting fired or resigning could cost him $3.7 million a year.  Tressel is contracted at that salary through 2014, but the termination-for-cause provisions in his contract would release Ohio State from that financial responsibility.

According to a copy of his contract obtained by the Journal, one of the termination-for-cause provisions is "fraud or dishonesty in preparing, falsifying, submitting or altering documents or records of Ohio State, NCAA or the Big Ten."
More on the Ohio State investigation

After receiving information regarding possible violations and the tattoo parlor (not to mention forwarding the emails), Tressel knowingly signed a routine compliance form stating he was not aware of any possible violations.  If Ohio State is looking for a reason to get Tressel out, the "fraud or dishonesty" clause might be a good place to start.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com