You just can’t make this stuff up. Well, you could, but it would be so unbelievable it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Terrelle Pryor was one of five Ohio State players suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving impermissible benefits. As it turns out, that case wasn’t the only off-field issue facing the quarterback.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Pryor was pulled over for traffic violations three times in the past three years. In each case, Pryor was driving a vehicle registered in the name of a car salesman or a car dealership where the salesman worked.
Ohio State, which was aware of only two of the incidents, told the Dispatch that they investigated the loaner vehicles and the compliance department determined that nothing untoward had occurred. As for the other traffic stop that they weren’t aware of, the school said they will investigate that one to ensure that no NCAA bylaws were broken.
Reportedly, all three times Pryor was pulled over in the loaner vehicles, his vehicle was in the shop for repairs or he was simply out for a test drive. One of the incidents occurred in October of 2008 and involved a 2004 GMC Denali. The other two occurred within a week of each other this past March when Pryor was driving a 2009 Dodge. The former vehicle was registered in the name of Aaron Kniffin, while the latter was registered to Auto Direct of Columbus. Kniffin was employed by that dealership at the time Pryor was pulled over driving the Dodge.
Ohio State knew about Pryor’s use of the car while he had the engine in his own car replaced this past spring and was assured that every customer receives a loaner when extended repairs like that are necessary, Archie said.
Pryor told The Dispatch last night that he borrowed cars from the dealership only when his own was in for repairs and that he spoke with Kniffin only in those instances. As for the SUV he borrowed in 2008, Pryor said, “I wanted advice from some of my family and friends I trusted to see if it would be a good vehicle for me to maybe buy.”
Test driving or borrowing a car is not in itself a violation of NCAA rules. However, use of a car because of an athlete’s status could be considered an improper benefit.
Ohio State became aware of the possibility of NCAA violations when they received an anonymous letter this past July, which stated that members of the football program were trading autographs in exchange for the use of cars. Of course, part of the probe that ended with the five-game suspensions involved the players receiving tattoos from a Columbus tattoo parlor in exchange for autographs and/or memorabilia.
About two dozen autographed jerseys hang inside Auto Direct’s office, including those from Pryor, running back Daniel Herron and receiver DeVier Posey. A number of autographs have been scribbled on the walls.
Pryor said he doesn’t remember the circumstances of him signing his jersey, but “I sign a lot of stuff for Buckeye fans – I don’t like to turn down fans. But I don’t do it to get any favors or discounts.
Pryor announced earlier this week that he would be returning for his senior season despite the suspension that will knock him out for nearly half the regular season. Based on the reports coming out of Columbus involving Pryor, we’re not certain whether we should be offering our congratulations or condolences on that development.