2007-09 Buckeye Disputes ‘I Didn’t Know’ Defense

In its decision last Thursday to allow five Ohio State football players to play in the Sugar Bowl - despite suspending the same players for five games each for the 2011 season - the NCAA cited the fact that the players did not know they were breaking NCAA rules when they sold Ohio State player-only items to Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

(Tattooed Gibson was teammates with the guilty players)

From the NCAA release:

The decision from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff does not include a withholding condition for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The withholding condition was suspended and the student-athletes will be eligible to play in the bowl game Jan. 4 based on several factors.

These include the acknowledgment the student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith also made clear during a press conference to announce the NCAA penalties that his compliance staff had fell down on the job when it came to making it known to players that they couldn’t sell such items.

We were not explicit with these young men that you could not resell items that we give you. We began to be more explicit in November 2009.”

On the same day Ohio State and the NCAA claimed OSU player ignorance of the rules, the Buckeye football player with the most tattoos on the team between 2007-09, Thaddeus Gibson, said that Ohio State football players during the time in question were repeatedly (explicitly) informed of the NCAA rule in question. Read more…

Pics: Tattoo Guy Also Had 2009 OSU Player Items

On Wednesday afternoon, we broke the name of the Tattoo Parlor in Columbus, Fine Line Ink, where multiple Ohio State Buckeye football players were later confirmed by the NCAA to have sold Ohio State player-only merchandise and received extra benefits in the form of tattoos.

2009 Big 10 Championship Ring From Edward Rife Facebook

One day later, Ohio State officially announced that five Buckeye football players were suspended for five games due to NCAA violations involving Fine Line Ink.

Per the official NCAA release, the violations included the sale of the following items:

Mike Adams: Sale of 2008 Big Ten championship ring
DeVier Posey: Sale of 2008 Big Ten championship ring, 2008 Gold Pants
Terrelle Pryor: Sale of 2008 Big Ten championship ring, 2008 Gold Pants
Solomon Thomas: Sale of 2008 Big Ten championship ring, 2008 Gold Pants

Edward Rife is the man who owns Fine Line Ink and who bought those items from Ohio State players. On Rife’s current Facebook page, several Ohio State football players - past and present - are listed as “friends”:

Fine Link Ink Ohio State Players Facebook Friends

In addition, photos that could be seen on Rife’s Facebook page this week included:

A photo of Terrelle Pryor at Rife’s tattoo parlor showing off the tattoo he got at Fine Line Ink:

Terelle Pryor at Fine Line Ink

An image of DeVier Posey getting a tattoo at Rife’s Fine Line Ink establishment:

DeVier Posey Fine Line Tattoo Facebook Photo

Rife displaying a 2009 Ohio State gold pants charm. (Pryor, Posey and Thomas sold him their 2008 gold pants):

Ohio State gold pants Facebook

Rife displaying a 2009 Big 10 Championship ring:

2009 Big 10 Championship Ring From Edward Rife Facebook

An auction site that specializes in championship rings is currently offering a 2009 Big 10 Championship ring for sale at $3,295.00 with the description:

2009 Ohio State Football “OUTRIGHT BIG TEN-ROSE BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP” **Starting** Player’s Ring

A single pair of 2009 Ohio State gold pants are also available on the same auction site.

2009 Ohio State Gold Pants

Four Ohio State players were cited for selling their 2008 Big 10 Championship rings and three were noted for selling their 2008 OSU gold pants.

But none were cited for selling 2009 Big 10 Championship rings or 2009 OSU gold pants.

Thursday I noted that former Ohio State football player Antonio Pittman Tweeted that Buckeye football players had been getting tattoo “hookups” since 2001. Read more…

Pryor In November: “I’m not worried about money”

At a press conference yesterday Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith revealed that current Buckeye football players had sold and bartered some of their Ohio State awards and merchandise for cash and tattoos.

Gene Smith and Terrelle Pryor re: NCAA violations

Among those players selling one-of-a-kind, player-only items was OSU star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor sold his Big 10 Championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl award and his 2008 Ohio State gold pants charm - which is rewarded only to Buckeye players who beat Michigan - to the proprietor of a tattoo parlor in Columbus.

During his remarks about the NCAA violations committed by the players, Smith said that the school would appeal the sanctions. The Ohio State athletic director then presented what he offered as “mitigating circumstances” what he thought might cause the NCAA to reduce the penalties levied against the players and school.

One such “circumstance” that Smith said he would offer the NCAA in Ohio State’s appeal was his claim that the players who were punished sold the Ohio State items “to help their families.”


“The decisions that they made, they made to help their families. … These young men went into their decision (to sell Ohio State awards and merchandise) with the right intent, to help their families and also we feel that there’s some mitigating circumstances that we can present.”

Smith was not specific in his characterization of the number of players who only aimed to “help their families”, but today he indicated during a radio appearance on Sirius/XM sattelite radio that perhaps that was not the intention of all of the players.

While appearing on Sirius/XM’s College Football Nation show, Smith said:

“A majority of the guys gave the money to their families, we will use this as a teachable moment. A majority of money went back to families.”

Smith did not provide that “majority” qualifier yesterday when presenting the sale of the Ohio State items by Buckeye football players as a solely noble endeavor.

Perhaps Smith was made aware in the interim of Pryor’s comments to the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER on November 11, 2010. In listing the reasons he was returning to Ohio State for his senior season, Pryor said: Read more…

AD: OSU Benefits ‘Isolated’; Ex-Buckeye Disagrees

Yesterday Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith announced that multiple Buckeye football players, including Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey, had been suspended for five games in 2011 for, in part, receiving extra benefits in the form of tattoos.

Antonio Pittman Tweet: Ohio State players getting tattoo hookups since 2001

During his remarks, Smith said of the situation:

“There are no other NCAA violations around this case. We’re very fortunate that we do not have a systemic problem in our program. This is isolated to these young men, and isolated to this particular instance.”

One former Buckeye football player though disagreed with that statement a few hours after Smith’s comments.

Following Smith’s press conference, ex-Ohio State player Antonio Pittman, who played for the Buckeyes from 2004-06, Tweeted: Read more…

NCAA: Terrelle Pryor Suspended For Five Games

Ohio State announced today the NCAA has suspended football players Mike Adams, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas and Terrelle Pryor for the first five games of next season. Also, Jordan Whiting is suspended for the first game of Ohio State’s 2010 season.

Terrelle Pryor suspended

(Full release below)

The players will be eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl.

For Pryor, the suspension was a result of him selling awards. The Ohio State quarterback must repay $2,500 to charity for selling his 2008 Big Ten ring, his 2009 Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants.

Ohio State reported the violations to the NCAA on Dec. 20. The school will appeal the suspensions.

Here’s the entire NCAA press release: Read more…

Terrelle Pryor Tattoo Tweet Gone From Account

Yesterday in the wake of reports that Ohio State football players may have gotten tattoos in exchange for autographs, which would likely represent an NCAA violation, Terrelle Pryor Tweeted the following:

Today, that Tweet disappeared from Pryor’s account. Read more…

Reports: IRS Inquiry Behind OSU’s Tattoo Issue

Wednesday I reported that a number of Ohio State Buckeye football players had gotten tattoos at the same establishment in Columbus. That information followed up unpublished rumors, first noted by Dave Biddle of Bucknuts.com on Twitter, that the method of payment for tattoos by OSU football players may have caught the attention of the school’s compliance office.

Ohio State Tattoos

Following my initial post on the subject, FOX 28 in Columbus reported that the school was considering suspending some Buckeye players from the Sugar Bowl game against Arkansas on January 4th. Though FOX 28 did not mention tattoos as the source of the possible suspensions, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH later reported that tattoos were indeed at the center of a compliance inquiry.

Ken Gordon of the Dispatch first linked Ohio State player tattoos and “discipline” in the main media with this Tweet:

Ohio State is investigating possible violations involving players getting tattoos in exchange for autographs. Some discipline likely.

Wednesday night during the Boise State-Utah Las Vegas Bowl telecast on ESPN, Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit noted the Ohio State tattoo issue with Herbstreit reporting that an IRS raid on a Columbus tattoo parlor turned up autographed items from OSU players that may indicate a breach in compliance.

Gordon and Tim May of the Dispatch later added that “law enforcement” may have initially alerted Ohio State to the possible problem:

The probe apparently was the offshoot of another investigation by law-enforcement agencies of possible unlawful behavior by the parlor owner, sources said. During a search for evidence, a stash of memorabilia signed by some current and former Ohio State players was found, the sources said, and law-enforcement officials made school administrators aware of it.

Meanwhile, wednesday evening Terrelle Pryor took to Twitter to clarify the nature of his own tattoo transaction.

Pryor’s Tweet: Read more…

Report: Ohio St. May Lose Players For Bowl Game

FOX 28 in Columbus reported Wednesday afternoon that compliance issues may impact the Ohio State lineup in its Sugar Bowl game against Arkansas.

Terrelle Pryor tattoo

Sources tell ABC6/FOX28 News that Ohio State officials are meeting for a second straight day to consider compliance issues involving high-profile players on the football team.

The issues could impact the players’ participation in the Sugar Bowl.

The COLUMBUS DISPATCH also reported:

Ohio State is investigating possible NCAA violations involving several football players receiving tattoos in exchange for autographs, multiple sources have told the Dispatch.

Sources indicate that some sort of discipline is likely to be handed down, but it is unclear when, or to what extent. It is possible that some players may not be available for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, but it’s also possible that any discipline could get pushed back to the start of the 2011 regular season.

Yesterday Dave Biddle of Bucknuts.com broke the news that there could be a compliance issue facing the Ohio State football team thanks to tattoos that Buckeye football players had received.

Excerpts of Biddle’s Tuesday Tweets:

Being told it will be a while until we know a resolution. One source thinks there will be no suspensions. Another one says 50/50.

Good news: Current player and SID deny the rumor. Bad news: Several sources sticking by their stories.

Word is a tattoo artist was giving out free tats in exchange for autographs from OSU players. Again, nothing has been confirmed yet.

Biddle’s Tweets were accompanied by this Tweet from Ohio State beat reporter Ken Gordon of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH:

Public-service bulletin: Tim May & I checking out compliance/NCAA rumors. So far, nothing to report. If something is up, we’ll have it.

May is a reporter for the Dispatch.

Ohio State Players Tattoos

There’s been no official statement released by Ohio State or Coach Jim Tressel on the matter, only unattributed denials to this point. Where the story now stands is anyone’s guess, but in the interim I’ve learned that a good many current Buckeyes have received tattoos at the same Columbus establishment. Read more…