How does the old saying go, when it rains it pours? At the moment, the Ohio State football program is under a deluge of such biblical proportions that Noah could very well be the school’s next head coach.
On the same day that Terrelle Pryor announced he was “foregoing” his senior season with the Buckeyes, another damning report that could cause significant additional damage to the program has surfaced.
According to the report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, and citing an unnamed source who claimed to be a friend of Pryor’s until “their relationship soured when Pryor began taking on a more ‘arrogant’ attitude after his 2009-10 season”, the QB was involved in an autograph-for-cash scheme with freelance photographer Dennis Talbott, one that reportedly netted Pryor upwards of $40,000 in one year’s time between 2009 and 2010.
Suffice to say, the following allegations would constitute major NCAA violations:
The signings for cash, which would be a violation of NCAA rules, occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year, the former friend says. The source spoke to ESPN under the condition that his face not be aired on TV and that his name not be published.
He said Pryor was paid $500 to $1,000 each time he signed mini football helmets and other gear for a Columbus businessman and freelance photographer, Dennis Talbott. Talbott twice denied to ESPN that he ever paid Pryor or any other active Buckeye athlete to sign memorabilia. He said last week he has only worked with former players to set up signings. On Tuesday evening, he declined to comment whether he had ever operated a sports memorabilia business and said he was not an Ohio State booster.
Pryor’s former friend also told “Outside the Lines” that the player often received preferential treatment in the Columbus community, receiving thousands of dollars in free food at local restaurants and convenience stores, free drinks at bars and free tattoos. In addition, he said the quarterback had access to free loaner cars from local dealerships. The source said he spent nearly every day with Pryor before their relationship soured when Pryor began taking on a more “arrogant” attitude after his 2009-10 season.
He said Pryor would get the merchandise to sign from Talbott, who would “bring it to TP, and he would sign it and he would bring him cash. Dennis would give him cash.” He said he witnessed the transactions occur about three to four times a week at Pryor’s apartment.
(Allow me to also add this, as it’s been gnawing at me since this report first came out: how big did The Ohio State University cash in on Pryor’s signature No. 2 jersey during his three years in Columbus? Not condoning the alleged scheme in the least, just sayin’…)
Pryor’s attorney denied the most recent allegations leveled against his client, and Talbott, who the report notes had sold images from sporting events to ESPN.com in the past, initially denied a claim that he had been on the receiving end of game tickets from an unnamed OSU football player. When confronted with, the website writes, “records from Ohio State [that] show that he and his wife were on a player’s will-call ticket list multiple times throughout the 2008 season”, Talbott claimed he couldn’t remember receiving ducats.
The piece also goes on to detail the financial issues Talbott is currently facing, including IRS and State of Ohio tax liens totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“He’s the type of person that … I think he really took advantage over TP because he was that person, and he would bring him, he would bring TP like memorabilia to sell for other people,” the former friend told OTL. “So Dennis is not a good guy for college athletes. That’s the guy you really don’t want to be around.”
Ohio State is scheduled to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions Aug. 12. This most recent revelation, on top of everything else that’s gone down regarding the football program in the past couple of months, will do nothing to help what was an uphill climb to begin with. And could very well make USC’s sanctions seem like they were delivered by a piker wearing an NCAA blazer.