Tuesday I reported that the NCAA had discovered checks passed from Columbus freelance photographer Dennis Talbott to former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in exchange for signing Buckeye memorabilia while Pryor was still in school. (At the beginning of each school year, the NCAA has all student-athletes sign a consent form which allows the intercollegiate governing body to access their bank records at any time.)
(Top Left Pryor Photo Has Ebay Watermark (Bottom Right Of Image))
Talbott, who was formally banned from associating with the Ohio State football program by the school last year and owns a Buckeye-themed vehicle with the vanity plate “T PRYOR”, was also seen selling autographed Pryor memorabilia on Ebay as recently as three days ago.
Using the Ebay screen name “infickellwetrust“, Talbott has since pulled all 250 items he had listed off the website. Among those items was signed memorabilia from Pryor along with game-used, autographed items from multiple former Ohio State Buckeye football players.
In the 48 hours since I reported those revelations, I’ve learned of an additional, stand-alone operation that Talbott has used to sell Ohio State football memorabilia. Talbott calls the business, which is unregistered in the state of Ohio, Varsity O Memorabilia.
A current “Varsity O Memorabilia” Facebook page, last updated in April, features some of the product procured by Talbott over the years from dozens of Buckeye football and basketball players. Many of the items seen signed in the Facebook photos came from then-current Ohio State players like Terrelle Pryor and Ted Ginn, Jr.
In the top-left photo Ginn is seen signing an Ohio State football helmet which may have seen game action while the above Pryor photo features an Ebay watermark in the bottom right corner of the image.
Also seen in the Facebook photos either signing memorabilia for Talbott or posing for photos later autographed by the subject are A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Maurice Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Chris Wells, Mike D’Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock - among other former Buckeye football and basketball players.
Some of the photos of Talbott’s memorabilia procurement were taken at officially-sanctioned Ohio State events, so newly-ousted OSU coach Jim Tressel is seen on more than one occasion signing various items for Talbott.
In the montage above, the Tressel-signed photo Talbott was selling on Ebay last Wednesday was identical to the photo Tressel was seen signing for Talbott in the above Facebook picture uploaded on March 11, 2011. A copy of the same signed image was also seen framed in a “Limited Edition” album as part of Talbott’s Varsity O Memorabilia Facebook page.
In one particular “Varsity O” Facebook promotional page photo, the former Ohio State football coach is seen signing a Buckeye football mini helmet. At the bottom of the picture is the web address VARSITYOMEN.com.
The cell phone number listed for Talbott on his photographer media credential for the Columbus-based This Week In Football publication and in Federal and Delaware County, Ohio, court documents matches the telephone contact number for the only person ever registered as owner of the VARSITYOMEM.com website. The site URL, which was first purchased in 2007, is no longer operable.
A public records search this week for “Dennis J. Talbott” confirmed that he has served as a board member for Agonis Club of Columbus.
While the extent of the relationship between Talbott and Pryor is not known, at the very least it has now been verified that Talbott was recently - earlier this week - selling Pryor-signed merchandise on Ebay. In addition, I can now confirm that Talbott sold photos and footballs signed by Pryor in 2008.
Worthpoint.com, which archives Ebay auctions, has records of at least three Pryor auctions in late 2008 executed by Talbott’s Varsity O memorabilia operation. That unregistered business also auctioned off a signed photo of Buckeye football players Smith, Ginn, Donte Whitner, Jamario O’Neal, and Curtis Terry in 2006, a Wells-signed football in 2007 and an autographed picture of DeVier Posey and Lamar Thomas in 2008.
Many of the photos signed by Buckeye players for Talbott - if not all - were taken by Talbott himself. Until recently, Talbott was granted full media access to the Ohio State football and basketball teams by the school’s athletic department as a photographer. Though, in his work for Icon SMI, Talbott was not paid for his assignments - only for the individual photos he sold to media outlets.
It was that same, unfettered access provided by the Ohio State Athletics and Compliance Departments that allowed Talbott to obtain autographs from innumerable Ohio State football and basketball players for many years, which he subsequently benefited from financially and otherwise.
That’s precisely the reason why he was finally cut off from those high profile Ohio State athletes and placed on blacklist by OSU athletic department officials I’ve confirmed as reservd for those officially disassociated from the program.