Report: Ohio State faces more scrutiny

Updated: May 26, 2011, 10:50 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's director of compliance is reviewing at least 50 car sales to Buckeyes athletes and relatives to see if they met NCAA rules, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.

Meanwhile, as part of his punishment for not revealing his knowledge of his players' NCAA violations, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will attend a five-day compliance seminar in June in Tampa, Fla. Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch confirmed Saturday that Tressel would take part in the NCAA-sponsored event June 6-10 at a resort hotel on the waterfront.

Consistent with our standard procedures, we are nevertheless reviewing these sales to assure ourselves that our policies were adhered to.

-- Ohio State's Douglas Archie, who said officials have seen no evidence of players getting special treatment in car sales

The Dispatch reported that a car salesman who received game passes from Ohio State athletes handled many of the deals at two different dealerships. Ohio State has since taken the salesman, Aaron Kniffin, off the pass list.

Athletes are prevented from receiving special deals not available to other students. They are not permitted to trade autographs for discounts. Both dealerships display signed Ohio State memorabilia in their showrooms.

However, one case of a vehicle sale to a Buckeyes player, earlier reported as having a purchase price of $0, was clarified by the Dispatch on Wednesday.

It was reported earlier that according to documents, a Chrysler 300C with fewer than 20,000 miles was sold to then-Ohio State linebacker Thaddeus Gibson for a purchase price of $0. At the time, Gibson said he did not know why the title showed a zero for the purchase price and said he was still paying for the car.

But the newspaper reported Wednesday that a previous title on the vehicle listed the purchase price as $13,700 for a sale dated June 27, 2007 and financed through Huntington National Bank. The title listing the purchase price as $0 was dated March 6, 2008 and listed the same bank as the lender.

State law requires dealers to report accurate information about all car sales for tax purposes.

School officials have seen no evidence of players getting special treatment in vehicle sales, Douglas Archie, associate athletic director for compliance, said in a statement Saturday.

"Consistent with our standard procedures, we are nevertheless reviewing these sales to assure ourselves that our policies were adhered to," he said.

The mother and brother of Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor also purchased cars from the dealerships. Kniffin loaned his own car to Pryor for a three-day test drive to Pryor's home in Jeannette, Pa.

Kniffin and the owner of one of the dealerships he worked for, Jason Goss, have attended seven football games as guests of players, including the 2007 national championship game and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

Tressel was notified in April 2010 via emails from a Buckeyes fan and former player that Ohio State players were trading signed jerseys and other memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo parlor owner for cash and reduced-price tattoos. Even though his contract and NCAA rules required him to notify athletic director Gene Smith, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee or the university's compliance department, Tressel did not do that.

It was not until more than nine months passed -- and five players including Pryor had been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season -- that Ohio State officials discovered the emails and confronted Tressel. He finally admitted he knew of the players getting improper benefits.

Tressel was originally suspended for two games -- later extended to the first five games this fall to match the punishment of the five players -- and was fined $250,000, required to make a public apology and receive a public reprimand and to attend an NCAA compliance seminar.

The NCAA is still investigating the actions of the 10-year coach of the Buckeyes. Ohio State and Tressel are scheduled to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions Aug. 12.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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