Exclusive: Pulitzer Prize Winner Tailing Buckeyes

Today I confirmed that the last sports reporter to win the Pulitzer Prize, current SPORTS ILLUSTRATED contributor George Dohrmann, has recently been in Columbus investigating the Ohio State football program.

George Dohrmann's Pulitzer Prize Reporting Led To Clem Haskins' Ouster At Minnesota

(Dohrmann’s reporting led to the end of Clem Haskins at Minnesota)

In 1999, it was Dohrmann’s exhaustive, investigative reporting for the ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS uncovering academic fraud within the University of Minnesota basketball program that led to the forced departure of coach Clem Haskins, subsequent NCAA sanctions against the school, and a Pultizer Prize for the Dohrmann.

Though Dohrmann burst on the national media scene reporting a college basketball story, as recently as last football season he broke a story that foreshadowed the impending mess wrought by Jim Tressel & Co.

Last October, Dohrmann convinced former NFL agent Josh Luchs to admit on the record that the ex-agent paid thousands of dollars to dozens of college football players - along with providing meals, trips and concert tickets - in an Oct. 18, 2010, SI cover story titled, “Confessions of an Agent.

Interestingly, Luchs’ client list included notorious Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett and a well-funded pursuit of another former Buckeye star.

Excerpt from Luchs’ account to Dohrmann:

“In November 2005, Steve (Feldman) and I flew to Ohio State to talk to receiver Santonio Holmes. We met him outside the football building, and he said, ‘Listen, I want to save you the time. We don’t need to meet. I’ve been taking money from [an agent] the last couple years, and he’s been taking care of my family too.’

“Had it been 10 years earlier, I would have probably said, ‘Santonio, whatever he’s paying you, I’ll double it.’ But now, being at Gersh, I had Hollywood to sell. Let the other agents pay kids.”

Feldman, a current NFL agent who has represented multiple pro football Hall of Famers over the past three decades, later confirmed to Dohrmann that Holmes told him and Luchs that an agent was paying the then-current Buckeye football player.

Feldman also told HBO Real Sports last March that he actually witnessed that conversation between Luchs and Holmes.
Through the New York Jets, Holmes denied the claims made by Luchs and Feldman.

After the allegations about Holmes being paid by an agent during his Ohio State days surfaced - courtesy Dohrmann’s report - the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported Jim Tressel’s reaction:

Tressel said he saw no signs of Holmes being improperly involved with agents while at Ohio State from 2002 through 2005.

… Tressel said assistant coach Darrell Hazell called Holmes after the story broke.

“His statements to Darrell put your mind at ease,” Tressel said. “You’re always concerned when anything is brought up.”

“In fact, I remember Darrell sat through the agent interviews with (Holmes) as kind of his sounding board,” Tressel said.

Of the agent business in general, Tressel said he tells players, “There’s 1,200 registered agents, and only 300 have clients. And that leaves 900 desperate folks, and desperate people do desperate things.”

… OSU compliance officials have said they are looking into the allegation.

Tuesday afternoon in Columbus WBNS-AM talk show host Scott Torgensen, who does a midday show on the official broadcast outlet for Ohio State football games, claimed on the air that Sports Illustrated was set to publish a damaging investigative piece written by Dohrmann about Ohio State football - “on Tuesday“:

“George Dohrmann, the guy’s who is writing the article, and it’ll be out Tuesday, has spent about six weeks writing this article.  About three weeks ago he was in Columbus for a week. A Monday through Thursday type thing. Last week he was in Columbus. I can tell you I know he went to the state pen and visited this tattoo artist from a place called “Dudley’s. I don’t know what that has to do with this story.

“One of my sources talked to Dohrmann yesterday, I actually had this guy talk to Dohrmann to fish about what the article is going to be about for me. So this is from Dohrmann, not from me, this is what I heard. Dohrmann told this guy that SI executive editors are salivating over the article. The quote was [from the source] ‘it’s going to be bad for Tress. … it’s something new and it’s big-time, it goes back to when Tress was at Youngstown.’ I was told that it’s all new stuff.

” … I don’t know who he (Dohrmann) was talking to or what it’s going to be about, I’m just telling you that it’s going to be next Tuesday, I know that George Dohrmann is a Pultizer Prize-winning investigative reporter.”

From talking to someone today who has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the editorial operation at Sports Illustrated, I can confirm that Torgensen has something in common with Dohrmann: the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist doesn’t know what his story will be about either.

Because it hasn’t been written. Nor has the decision been made by Dohrmann to write such a piece. Or by Sports Illustrated to publish it.

Yes, Dohrmann has been in Columbus chasing down leads but no, there are zero immediate plans for a story from him about Ohio State football to be published in Sports Illustrated.

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