With an August NCAA hearing looming regarding confirmed violations, the very last thing the Ohio State football program needs at this point in time is additional accusations.
So, of course, the very last thing has indeed occurred.
In an extensive piece by Ohio State’s student newspaper, ex-Buckeye wide receiver Ray Small, a longtime resident of Jim Tressel‘s doghouse during his run in Columbus a couple of years ago, admitted to The Lantern that he, along with several other unnamed football players, sold OSU memorabilia such as Big Ten title rings as well as receiving special deals on the purchase of vehicles due to their status as football players.
The former accusation would be considered an NCAA violation, the same type that landed five current players five-game suspensions to start the 2011 season. The latter is troubling when viewed through the prism of a Columbus Dispatch investigation into the sale of vehicles to members of the OSU football program and prompted the school’s compliance department to launch an investigation into more than 50 purchases at two area dealerships.
Small told The Lantern that, when it comes to the deals on cars, “I don’t see why it’s a big deal.” Small added that some student-athletes at the school “don’t even think about (NCAA) rules”, which is certain to make the skin of every member of the OSU compliance department crawl.
Tressel was ultimately suspended for five games — for now — and fined $250,000 for failing to disclose/lying about/covering up knowledge of at least two of his players receiving impermissible benefits. Those took the form of selling rings, gold pants, etc. to the owner of a local tattoo parlor in exchange for cash and discounts on tattoos. Small decided to tackle that issue as well, and his version of the truth did his former school no favors.
“If you go in and try to get a tattoo, and somebody is like ‘Do you want 50 percent off this tattoo?’ You’re going to say, ‘Heck yeah,'” Small said.
Perhaps the only saving grace for the university in general and the athletic department in particular is that, while Small admitted to what appears to be additional violations committed by himself and others, he also acknowledged that the football players were made aware of the fact that what they were doing — or contemplating doing — was against NCAA bylaws.
“They explain the rules to you, but as a kid you’re not really listening to all of them rules,” Small said. “You go out and you just, people show you so much love, you don’t even think about the rules. You’re just like ‘Ah man, it’s cool.’ You take it, and next thing you know the NCAA is down your back.”
And, based on this latest revelation on the part of Small, the NCAA may decide to go even further down the back of the OSU football program. Either way, and as stated previously, this is the very last thing the OSU football program needs right now, even if it does come from an individual such as Small whose motives may or may be righteous given his stormy past at the school.