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 That information followed up unpublished rumors, first noted by Dave Biddle of on Twitter, that the method of payment for tattoos by OSU football players may have caught the attention of the school’s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:

“I paid for my tattoos. GoBucks”

It’s important to note that I never accused Ohio State players of any manner of impropriety in my initial report, instead only pointing out that multiple Buckeyes were using the same tattoo establishment to get inked.

An official Ohio State announcement regarding the status of Buckeye football players reportedly may come as early as Thursday.

UPDATE: All Vegas sports books have now pulled the OSU-Arkansas line.

UPDATE: Ohio State football player Michael Brewster addressed the situation with a Tweet early Thursday:

For the record I got all my tattoos done in orlando at Hart and Huntington at Universal City Walk

By revealing where he got the tattoos, it’s reasonable to assume Brewster is affirming that he paid for his own tattoos.

Follow Brooks on Twitter for real-time updates.