At a press conference yesterday Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith revealed that current Buckeye football players had sold and bartered some of their Ohio State awards and merchandise for cash and tattoos.
Among those players selling one-of-a-kind, player-only items was OSU star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor sold his Big 10 Championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl award and his 2008 Ohio State gold pants charm - which is rewarded only to Buckeye players who beat Michigan - to the proprietor of a tattoo parlor in Columbus.
During his remarks about the NCAA violations committed by the players, Smith said that the school would appeal the sanctions. The Ohio State athletic director then presented what he offered as “mitigating circumstances” what he thought might cause the NCAA to reduce the penalties levied against the players and school.
One such “circumstance” that Smith said he would offer the NCAA in Ohio State’s appeal was his claim that the players who were punished sold the Ohio State items “to help their families.”
“The decisions that they made, they made to help their families. … These young men went into their decision (to sell Ohio State awards and merchandise) with the right intent, to help their families and also we feel that there’s some mitigating circumstances that we can present.”
Smith was not specific in his characterization of the number of players who only aimed to “help their families”, but today he indicated during a radio appearance on Sirius/XM sattelite radio that perhaps that was not the intention of all of the players.
While appearing on Sirius/XM’s College Football Nation show, Smith said:
Smith did not provide that “majority” qualifier yesterday when presenting the sale of the Ohio State items by Buckeye football players as a solely noble endeavor.
Perhaps Smith was made aware in the interim of Pryor’s comments to the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER on November 11, 2010. In listing the reasons he was returning to Ohio State for his senior season, Pryor said:
“I’m not worried about money and stuff like that. My mom works a little bit and I can get some of her money and use the money I get here (from scholarship checks).”
Despite Pryor’s previous comment, his high school coach Ray Reitz said after the NCAA violations and suspensions were announced yesterday that the OSU QB had his mother in mind when selling his OSU swag:
Per ESPN’s Joe Schad:
Terrelle Pryor’s HS coach, Ray Reitz, said Terrelle was “trying to help his mother.”
None of this is meant to diminish what may be the financially precarious position of the families of the Ohio State football players involved. But clearly there’s some gray area as it pertains to how AD Smith initially presented the number of players and the motivation involved in the sale and trade of Ohio State items by Buckeye football players to a tattoo artist.
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