For a while there, it would be hard to go an entire week without hearing about yet another purported violation involving somebody in Ohio State's football program.
The Ohio State Scandal Scorecard
By Tony Gerdeman
Regardless of whether or not each accusation proved true or was rebutted, the damage was done. Every story was gobbled up as fact, and repeated with variances and additions.
Back in early May, The Columbus Dispatch reported that several Ohio State football players and their family members had purchased cars from one particular salesman.
People heard "Ohio State football players" and "cars" and completely ignored the part about the cars being purchased. But now that Cargate has apparently been dismissed, don't expect the national opinion of Ohio State to have this particular escapade stricken from the record.
That's essentially the case for every accusation, real or imagined, involving Ohio State right now. So in an effort to keep track of the real, imagined and yet to come, we decided to see where each of the accusations stand.
We don't need to address the original situation that saw six Buckeyes suspended because that was admitted to and has been dealt with by both Ohio State and the NCAA.
We are just focusing on the things that have come out since then. Granted, there are a lot, so apologies in advance if we've missed your favorite violation.
This is not meant as a refutation of wrongdoings, because there have certainly been some very serious violations that have taken place. Rather, this is meant to simply take stock of what we know, where we are, and what is no longer an issue.
This might take a while, so let's get this rolling.
Terrelle Pryor's 350Z
Much buzz was made when Pryor showed up at a team meeting following Jim Tressel's resignation driving a sleek black car with temporary tags.
More than anything it showed a lack of understanding of the greater situation, which is not an NCAA violation. When word spread of Pryor's car, it turned into a frenzy of "Terrelle Pryor shows up in a brand new 350Z!" However, a tiny bit of research would have told anybody that there is no such thing as a 'brand new 350Z' because they stopped making them a few years ago.
Pryor's mother, likely in an effort to keep from being stalked by television stations, eventually produced paperwork showing that she is paying for the car in question. With that, America's long national nightmare was over.
Threat Level: None.
Terrelle Pryor's Eight Other Cars
Sports Illustrated's wide-reaching piece on Jim Tressel and Ohio State's corruption mentioned eight cars that Pryor has been connected to. Or, more specifically, it mentioned the possibility of such:
"a source close to one of the investigations told SI, [Pryor] might have driven as many as eight cars in his three years in Columbus."
Makes you wonder if this source is so close to the investigation why they wouldn't know the exact number.
Regardless of my semantics, the NCAA and Ohio State are indeed investigating Terrelle Pryor and the possibility of this particular benefit.
In the past, it has been reported the Pryor has been pulled over three different times driving dealer cars. As part of this current ordeal, these situations have been brought up again, but they appear to have been cleared by Ohio State a long time ago.
Threat Level: Meh. There are a lot better ways to cheat the system than buying and test-driving cars. Paperwork weighs things down. Considering Ohio State already cleared Pryor once of driving at least two of the loaner cars, and the NCAA was cool with that, the Pryor car situation doesn't seem overly worrisome. Especially since the Ohio BMV investigation came back good for Ohio State.
Terrelle Pryor's $20,000-$40,000 in Cash Money
Without at least one of two parties admitting cash changed hands, or the idiotic appearance of a receipt, it's very difficult to prove that a player was ever paid.
ESPN came up with the number of $20,000-$40,000 by multiplying an anonymous source's estimation by another estimation, which is always the best way to come up with an accurate number.
Not to be picky, but if they really wanted to be accurate, they would have done the math on their estimations and come up with between $17,500-$40,000. Rounding $17,500 up to $20,000 seems a bit sensationalistic.
People see things they probably shouldn't in college towns all the time, but without receipts or the right people willing to go on the record, it's hard to prove cash has ever been involved.
However, if that cash is ever deposited into a bank, the university - and the NCAA - would certainly be able to notice the bounty of deposits.
According to Sports By Brooks, a self-described site for "sports celebrity gossip", the NCAA has even found checks deposited into Pryor's bank account.
The story about the checks has yet to go further than the original source, but if they are truly out there, it certainly gets difficult to deny their existence.
Regardless of checks or cash, deposits into a bank account don't lie. If there is a litany of deposits, then there's really no way to excuse it as anything other than an impermissible benefit.
However, Pryor's lawyer has already stated that his client will no longer be speaking to the NCAA because "It just doesn't serve any purpose going forward," and it would be surprising if anybody accused of giving money to a player would willingly talk to the NCAA since they absolutely don't have to.
Threat Level: Legit. If the bank statements can prove violations occurred with Pryor or anybody else, regardless if anybody talks, additional sanctions could be handed down, but would they even be noticeable considering the likely punishment already on its way? If Pryor is proven to have accepted money, the amount estimated would have cost him the rest of his amateur status as punishment. Since he's already given up his status, is the NCAA then forced to punish the school instead? And would any additional punishment simply run concurrently with the punishment coming from Jim Tressel's cover-up. Regardless, it's unlikely the $20,000-$40,000 figure being mentioned would ever come into play with the NCAA. The real number will be whatever the NCAA finds, not what somebody guesstimates.
The weakest of all 'gates'. ESPN reported that Pryor and other players played golf with the now-famous Dennis Talbott at a private golf course.
There's no proof that the players played for free, but there's also no proof that they paid Talbott for the opportunity.
Is this bad? Depends. Do you normally request a receipt when you're paying an acquaintance at a country club for the round of golf his membership afforded you?
Whether or not the players paid for the golf is a non-starter because all they have to say is that they did. Same as Talbott. The possible violation, however, occurs from football players playing at a private course that they were only able to access because of who they were.
As an aside, you have to love the irony of players getting in trouble for being too exclusive to play at an exclusive club.
Threat Level: None. This entire situation may have already been addressed in-house or with the NCAA. The golf club alerted Ohio State of the players playing the course, and the players never came back. At the very least, Ohio State dealt with it. This has all of the makings of one of the thousands of secondary violations that get reported every year.
Cargate, or 'A Chicken In Every Pot and a Charger In Every Garage'
Back on May 7th, The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State was going to investigate at least 50 car deals involving athletes and their families.
One of the car deals mentioned - and the most talked about - was Thaddeus Gibson purchasing a two-year old Chrysler 300 for the bargain-basement price of absolutely nothing.
On May 11th, The Columbus Dispatch reported that they had gotten Gibson's purchase price wrong by $13,700.
Due to the newspaper's findings, Ohio State and the Ohio BMV both launched investigations into the car sales in question, though OSU waited to see what the BMV found before progressing very far with their own Columbo-fest.
On June 21st, the BMV announced that they had concluded their investigation and had found no irregularities in their search.
No doubt relieved at the findings, Ohio State felt satisfied with the BMV's discoveries and called off their own investigation.
Considering an independent agency conducted the investigation, it would follow that the NCAA would find the information satisfactory.
Threat Level: None. As it stands, there is nothing to see here based on the available evidence. The BMV admittedly doesn't dabble in NCAA quackery, but even they said “we have seen no evidence that would lead us to believe that Ohio State student-athletes violated any policies when purchasing used cars.”
OMG! There is a Buckeye at a Place of Business!
On June 7th it was reported that Ohio State quarterback Kenny Guiton was seen at the world famous Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor back in December.
The witness, who asked to remain anonymous stated "We saw something we probably shouldn't see."
What did she see? Football players. And tattoos. That's it.
More from the article:
"The woman said that someone at the shop told her players had swapped an autographed football for tattoos. It is not clear whether Guiton took part in the alleged trading."
So she saw something that she 'probably shouldn't see', but the dirtiest dirt she could provide was something that she heard?
Now maybe I'm wrong, but Columbus is still part of America and there are no laws about being inside a tattoo parlor in America, correct? Why is this a story again?
Threat Level: None. You can try to make a football player being somewhere football players go a story, but that doesn't mean any violations occurred.
Doug Worthington's Supposedly Pawned Pants
Two pairs of Gold Pants were sold on the History Channel show Pawn Stars this season, and one pair was said to have belonged to former defensive lineman Doug Worthington.
The show created a stir because...well, because people love stirs.
If it could be proven that Worthington sold the pants while he was still playing, then that would constitute an NCAA violation.
However, Worthington says the pants aren't his, and he says he knows where every pair is.
Because the pants only contain initials, it is possible the pants actually belonged to former cornerback Donald Washington, but he too says he has all of his Gold Pants.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the NCAA has not contacted the producer of the show, so it would appear that this is a non-starter as well.
Threat Level: None.
Ray Small Wonder
On May 25th, Ohio State's student newspaper The Lantern printed a story and interview involving former Buckeye receiver Ray Small in which Small details the fact that he sold memorabilia during his playing days and didn't even think twice about it.
Not only did Small implicate himself, he implicated everybody else on his teams.
"NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one."
"'They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it.'"
This led to a Twitter backlash from past and present Buckeyes normally reserved for the likes of nobody ever.
Small came out a couple of days later to say that his words were twisted and made the collective Buckeye Nation hate him.
"'People are calling me a sellout, a snitch, a trader (sic)," Small said on Friday."
Looking back on the original interview now, the most interesting part to me is this:
"The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said."
"'It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal,' said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource."
So the best perks were the deals on cars that the BMV just said weren't out of the ordinary? That doesn't sound all that great to me. You'd think there'd be better perks out there.
Obviously Ray Small committed NCAA violations. This is not news to the NCAA.
Threat Level: Concerning, But Not Terribly. If Small was still playing, he would be facing the same five-game suspension as everybody else. However, given how often he had been in Jim Tressel's doghouse, it's not impossible to think that Tressel also had some prior knowledge of Small wrongdoing. But this would still fall under the original sanctions, if it falls anywhere.
Sports Illustrated - How Deep It Wasn't
Starting way back in April or so, there were rumors that Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann was in Columbus digging around. On May 30th the nervously-anticipated article finally appeared online and the internet went silent for about fifteen minutes.
Soon after, the Twitter reaction to the article was one of slight disappointment at the level of dirt dug. Outsiders were hoping for something much more sinister. Ohio State fans, however, were more relieved than upset.
The first allegation in the piece was a rehash of the Ray Isaac situation while Tressel was at Youngstown State. Isaac received thousands of dollars while playing under Tressel, which lays the foundation for the rest of the piece that the coach was, at the very least, willfully ignorant to the goings-on of his players.
Dorhmann quotes Isaac in the piece, though Isaac says he hasn't granted an interview on the matter since 2003.
It took the former player about fourteen hours from the time the Sports Illustrated piece went up to refute his portion of the Tressel piece.
"The article is chewed up. If you look at the paragraph that goes into what I was allegedly to have said, it is poorly written. It doesn’t give any facts or clarity."
"To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud."
This portion of the SI piece means absolutely nothing to Ohio State moving forward, or backward. It's history. To think it affects anything now would be like saying Luke Fickell should be suspended for Woody Hayes punching Charlie Bauman.
The second incident mentioned by Dohrmann is the Clarett fiasco back in 2003.
"A year later, after he left the university, Clarett told ESPN that he wasn't forthcoming with the NCAA because it would have meant ratting on teammates and coaches. He alleged that Tressel had arranged cars for him to use and that the coach's older brother Dick, who was then the Buckeyes' director of football operations (he is now the team's running backs coach), arranged lucrative no-show jobs for players. (Jim and Dick Tressel have denied the allegations.) Clarett added that coaches connected him with boosters who gave him thousands of dollars."
On June 8th, Clarett appeared on the Dan Patrick Radio Show and admitted he lied about what he accused the University of in the past.
All of this is neither here nor there because it's eight years old, but for some reason it was important enough for Sports Illustrated to include it. This also has no bearing on anything going forward.
The third item written about is Troy Smith's $500 handshake which would qualify under time served. Also, I'm pretty sure the NCAA is aware of it.
As we move into the modern age, the first actual piece of new information is the allegation that an additional 22 other players had been playing the 'gear for tats' game.
Per SI, nine of those 22 are current players and nine are players who might fall under the four-year statute of limitations window.
Of the nine current players, five of them have had their parents or high school coaches come out and deny the allegations since the players themselves have been advised to keep quiet.
There are various reports that eight of the nine have already been cleared by Ohio State of any wrongdoing, but the NCAA has yet to have their say on the matter.
Given the stark denials and the reports of possible clearings, there really don't appear to be too much to these allegations.
If something is actually found to have occurred, we already know the punishment that would be handed out, and if you'll recall, the last round of punishments didn't involve punishing the University.
The numbers - if they are real - add up and eventually the NCAA's barrel would have to be pointed squarely at Ohio State as well as any guilty players.
If all that comes out of this is an additional player being found to have committed an infraction, then it would be a surprise if any additional punishment would be handed down to the University.
Regarding the nine former players who are still inside the statute of limitations, Ray Small and Rob Rose both admit to accepting benefits.
Jermale Hines and Devon Torrence deny the allegations, as do Lamaar Thomas and Doug Worthington. Donald Washington and Thaddeus Gibson declined to comment, and they would likely do the same to the NCAA as well.
Jermil Martin is alleged to have traded a watch and Rose Bowl tickets for a Chevy Tahoe. While we don't know for sure if this account is entirely accurate, Ohio State felt confident enough that Martin did something wrong that they contacted Ashland University, where Martin had transferred, and advised the university that there were problems with Martin's NCAA eligibility.
All tolled, three of the 22 players readily admit, or have had Ohio State readily admit, that they committed NCAA violations. Twelve have openly denied any wrongdoing, or at least have had somebody deny it for them. Two declined to comment (not including the rumored ninth current Buckeye who has yet to be cleared) and four unknowns, who likely fall outside the statute timeframes.
So basically there are three players who would face NCAA sanctions based on what we know now, and they're already gone.
The next allegation in the piece was 'Cargate' and Pryor's eight cars, which has already been addressed above.
Up next was the retelling of Mark Titus' blog post regarding the cars that football players drove.
"...it was common knowledge among students that football players were driving cars too pricey for their means..."
If the knowledge was so common, perhaps the BMV was looking in the wrong places?
Next came a rehashing of the Ray Small piece in The Lantern, which again points to deals on cars that, as it has turned out, aren't really all that spectacular.
The next allegation in the piece is the raffle story. I shouldn't have to explain it because it's such a joke.
However, I do feel compelled to mention the fact that the top prospects at the camps didn't always get the gear.
The article goes on to detail memorabilia swapping from 2002-2004, which is beyond the statute of limitations and the violations aren't the kind that would warrant that rule being waived.
Terrelle Pryor is then mentioned as having brought in more than 20 items into Fine Line Ink, but given that Pryor is done talking to the NCAA, it's unlikely that anything from this allegation will go anywhere as it currently stands.
There is also an allegation of four players trading memorabilia for marijuana, but good luck getting anybody to admit to that. There were no players named in this allegation for some reason.
Threat Level: Possibly Legit, Possibly Not. Sticking to just the allegations that matter in the present tense, most people feel like the nine current players will be exonerated. The nine past players don't have to speak to the NCAA, and the ones that haven't yet likely won't. If there is something to the allegations surrounding these nine current players, then that may show the failure to monitor Dorhmann was working so hard to prove.
Let's look at the violations that we know have definitely occurred to this point:
(1) Six players were busted for trading memorabilia.
(2) Jim Tressel played those players knowing they were ineligible.
(3) Terrelle Pryor is being investigated regarding cars, money and whatever else. However, he is not going to speak to the NCAA.
(4) Ray Small admits to violating NCAA rules. He also admits to knowing that it was wrong.
(5) Robert Rose admits to violating NCAA rules. He also admits to knowing that it was wrong.
(6) Ohio State advised Ashland that Jermil Martin had eligibility issues.
I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the NCAA already knows about most of this, and has for quite some time.
Despite a stretch of constant news, the only things that appear to have legs are broken down in the summary above.
So we have five suspended players, one unemployed coach, one player who is leaving early, and three other players who haven't played at Ohio State since 2009.
That's ten people who were proven to have committed NCAA violations over the last three years. That is a lot. However, what Small and Rose did would warrant the same type of punishment that the suspended players received. It wouldn't necessarily make things worse for Ohio State in terms of upping punishment to the University.
The concern will be the punishment handed down because of Jim Tressel's actions, in addition to what the NCAA can piece together regarding Terrelle Pryor.
The other most serious charge is whether Jermil Martin receiving a car for memorabilia kicks him up into another "tax bracket" regarding punishment.
These are really the only questions currently remaining.
Of everything that has been interpreted as "news", very little of it has any bearing on what Ohio State is going to be facing in NCAA sanctions.
It's an awful lot of noise and very little else. In many ways, the past few months have been like the song of the cicadas—once the singing stops all that's left is an empty shell.
Don't get comfortable though. Sports Illustrated, ESPN and possibly Yahoo! are still looking for more. Chances are that if you've ever seen an Ohio State game in person, you may get a call from somebody wanting to know if you've ever seen anything "that you shouldn't have".
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