Blog Entry

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

Posted on: May 30, 2011 9:40 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 6:01 am

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the announcement that Jim Tressel had resigned at Ohio State on Monday morning, it was mentioned that the move came following some findings of a report in the next issue of Sports Illustrated. That report was published on Monday evening. It includes new revelations that the five Buckeyes suspended after trading Ohio State memorabilia for tattoos were not alone. According to the report, it's a practice that has gone on for years and includes at least 28 players.

That support crumbled suddenly over Memorial Day weekend. Tressel was forced out three days after Sports Illustrated alerted Ohio State officials that the wrongdoing by Tressel's players was far more widespread than had been reported. SI learned that the memorabilia-for-tattoos violations actually stretched back to 2002, Tressel's second season at Ohio State, and involved at least 28 players -- 22 more than the university has acknowledged. Those numbers include, beyond the six suspended players, an additional nine current players as well as nine former players whose alleged wrongdoing might fall within the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations on violations.

One former Buckeye, defensive end Robert Rose, whose career ended in 2009, told SI that he had swapped memorabilia for tattoos and that "at least 20 others" on the team had done so as well. SI's investigation also uncovered allegations that Ohio State players had traded memorabilia for marijuana and that Tressel had potentially broken NCAA rules when he was a Buckeyes assistant coach in the mid-1980s.

The report later goes on to name a long list of players who allegedly traded items for tattoos and possibly other things as well. It's also reported that former Buckeye Jermil Martin gave Fine Line Ink owner Edward Rife a watch and four tickets to the 2010 Rose Bowl in exchange for a Chevy Tahoe. As for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, it's alleged that he made upward of 20 different trades -- including game-worn shoulder pads, helmets and game pants -- at the tattoo shop. When an employee asked Pryor how he got all this stuff Pryor responded "I get whatever I want."

Perhaps the most damning aspect of all of this for Jim Tressel was that some of the autographed merchandise that players traded at Fine Line Ink and Dudleyz Tattoo & Body Piercing -- the shop where Buckeyes allegedly began trading items years ago before Fine Link Ink opened -- featured Tressel's autograph.

Dustin Halko was an artist at Dudley'z from the fall of 2002 until early '04, and he says that players regularly visited the shop and handed over signed jerseys, gloves, magazines and other goods in exchange for tattoos. Halko says he personally inked at least 10 Ohio State players -- he clearly remembers tattooing guard T.J. Downing, tight end Louis Irizarry and wide receiver Chris Vance -- and in return he was given autographed memorabilia. (Downing denies ever entering Dudley'z and says that if his memorabilia was there it had been stolen out of his locker; Irizarry and Vance could not be reached for comment despite extensive efforts to contact them.) Halko says that more players, including Clarett (who declined to comment), traded with other artists, and he estimates that at least 15 players violated NCAA rules at Dudley'z just as Pryor & Co. did at Fine Line Ink. Two associates of Halko's who hung out at the shop -- they asked not be named because they fear reprisals from Ohio State fans -- confirmed Halko's account that players commonly swapped memorabilia for tattoo work. One said he saw "at least five" Buckeyes conduct such transactions; the other said "at least seven."

"What they brought in depended on the kind of tattoo they wanted," says Halko. "If it was just something small, it might be a signed magazine or something like that. If it was a full sleeve, they might bring in a jersey." (Tattoos range in price from less than $100 for simple designs to several thousand dollars for more elaborate ones like the full-sleeve inkings of some Buckeyes.) Halko says those working in the shop preferred receiving items with multiple autographs. His most memorable acquisition was a scarlet-and-gray training jacket with between 10 and 15 signatures on it, including Tressel's. Halko says he also traded tattoo work for a magazine bearing the coach's autograph.

As if all this isn't bad enough for Tressel and the Buckeyes, there were also some possible recruiting violations brought up that Tressel allegedly committed while serving as an assistant under Earle Bruce in the mid-1980s.

One of Tressel's duties then was to organize and run the Buckeyes' summer camp. Most of the young players who attended it would never play college football, but a few were top prospects whom Ohio State was recruiting. At the end of camp, attendees bought tickets to a raffle with prizes such as cleats and a jersey. According to his fellow assistant, Tressel rigged the raffle so that the elite prospects won -- a potential violation of NCAA rules. Says the former colleague, who asked not to be identified because he still has ties to the Ohio State community, "In the morning he would read the Bible with another coach. Then, in the afternoon, he would go out and cheat kids who had probably saved up money from mowing lawns to buy those raffle tickets. That's Jim Tressel." 

Just in case that wasn't enough, the report also goes into detail on some of Tressel's past transgressions while not only at Ohio State, but Youngstown State as well.

All in all, this is not a report that sheds a favorable light on Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes or Ohio State in general. It's rather obvious now why Tressel decided to resign on Monday morning. Whether that move will cause the NCAA to show the school some mercy remains to be seen, but you have to believe that Buckeye fans across Ohio and the country won't be sleeping well tonight. 


Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:03 am

Ohio State is not alone

This report, and the others around it, makes me sad. Sad for the players who did not cheat at OSU because they will be penalized along with their teammates. Sad for the fans of OSU because they have been riding well this past decade and justly proud of their team's accomplishments, all to be taken away. Sad for the students of OSU because the football team's actions have shamed them as well. Sad for the opponents of OSU because they did not get to compete on a level field.

Mostly is makes me sad to note that the image others work so hard to project is not believable at face value. Reading the Bible in the morning and cheating the campers in the afternoon. And I do know the OSU and coach ex-coach Tressell are not alone in the cheating department. The NCAA has determined to make the penalties more stiff to deter the cheating and that is a step in deterrence. But there is too much money involved and too little oversight to have any real chance of policing the problems before they happen. The tens of millions paid to Tressell - are they not incentive to cheat? Saying everyone does it does not make it true or right if it is true. But OSU is not alone.

Isn't this a microcosm of the country? Haven't we seen cheating rampant in our high schools, colleges, work places and tax forms? Haven't we grown cold to the claims and promises of our politicians, knowing that they will first do whatever they need to get re-elected? It is not about the other guy. It is not enough to condemn Tressell. Can we look ourselves in the mirror and resolve to not be that guy?

Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: June 2, 2011 11:41 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

this story is a joke..  several OSU players are suing SI for their BS report.

Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:36 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

I am an OHIO STATE and I do NOT condone what Coach Tressell did, he should have been fired the MINUTE he admitted to forwarding the emails to Pryor's mentor in PA.  I know the "everybody" doing it does not make it right, however, I promise you that the reason why other schools are not outraged is because it happens there (pick a school).  Go to any legit bookstore on ANY campus and you will find for sale autographed pictures of that schools football, basketball, whatever sport athletes, in the store for sale.  I have seen it in person at ALL the Big Ten Schools, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Cincinnati, Kentucky, WV and Marshal.  NCAA cannot hammer OHIO STATE because, OHIO STATE notified the NCAA that it happened,  then they found out about Coach Tressell, and OHIO STATE travels well ($$$).  The NCAA ALLOWED the players to play in the Sugar Bowl (why? $$$)and suspended the players for the first 5 games of this upcoming year.  I know that it happens at IOWA because of friend of mine drove a new car home each time that he came back to Ohio.  I will not name the athlete or sport (he called his car a BENNY)

Since: Jan 6, 2009
Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:51 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

Another sad part of this is that there are teams who have either finished tied with or just behind the Buckeyes in final Big 10 standings who didn't cheat or break the rules [at least not as blatantly]. These teams might have gotten either a better bowl game or even a shot at a NC. It's going to be interesting to see just how far back they [the NCAA] can prove that THE osu was cheating. Buckeye fans can say "Yeah! But others are doing this too." BUT I doubt that hardly any others had a place to go get free "Mary Jane" & all the other 'perks' at a 'party house' out back. That's pretty sad folks! I don't care who you are. Frown

Since: Mar 28, 2007
Posted on: June 2, 2011 10:45 am

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

It's George Bush's fault! Foot in mouth

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:44 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

I actually agree with you.  I really do not think he did anything worse than half of the other top 20 teams and below.  I lived in Columbus for most of Tressel's tenure and I actually like him.  I am disappointed in what happened because I thought he was above that.  I certainly do not think they should be shut down permanately.  They unfortunate thing in all of these situations, so of the people who pay the biggest price are those who (students) come in during the disciplinary process. 

On the other hand I would guess you are a little more objective than most Buckeye fans I know.  Most of the ones I know and have seen on this thing, still insist on bashing UM, political figures, everyone but who is at fault.  By the way, I am not from Michigan.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:50 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

Very few Buckeye fans responding....could we have finally found a foot big enough for those mouths!

Well Hell, Tribemember, wtf do you expect?  Who wants to subject themselves to taunts from gloating sphincters?  All the haters are in their glory, and many are irrational beyond belief. Like the guys who think the death penalty is not severe enough, and thinks all sports at OSU should be shut down permanently.  What more is to be said?  A man who spent a lifetime building a tremendous reputation has resigned in disgrace after seeing that reputation crumble to mere ashes in rapid order.  As a Buckeye Alum, I know Tressel did an immense amount of good beyond just winning games.  He has done great things for the University, the community, support for our military, and of course being a wonderful positive influence on the lives of hundreds of players.  It is a shame he screwed it all up by protecting an incredibly talented, yet incredibly dumb and arrogant young man and his posse.  One very bad decision indeed.

For the record, I have been saying for several weeks that I doubted that Tressel would survive this, and that OSU will get the punishment it deserves.  So the upshot is OSU will be banned from post season play, and we will watch as the loss of scholarships take a toll on the talent base over the next few years.  Is any of this enough for haters like you?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:00 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

I agree..I thought going to college was about getting an education. Scholarships are awarded to give you a free one.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:47 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

Akron... you must be crazy. 
I agree with you that there are far worse people in the world than Tressel.  I agree that resigning was the right thing to do.  But stay on topic.  This has nothing to do with politics.  Those comments just erode credibility. 
It is a sham that this happened, and I am sure it is one of many programs out there doing similar things.
This does go beyond just a terrible decision, it is a serious of them that resulted in a cover-up.

Since: May 23, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:42 pm

Report: Buckeye Five were not alone

beable to obtain billion dollar tv deals, would anybody buy jerseys or school merchandise? instead of tutition going up only 6% per year it would be  double and triple % every year so thanks to star athlete tutition hasnt gone up 100% thus saving you couple 100g on student loan debt for a 4year degree..

Very few athletics departments make money every year, so if college sports were abolished, most universities would be would tuition.

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