Terrelle Pryor Leaves Ohio State As Scandal Brews

Written June 8th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

We wrote on Tuesday about former three time Academic All Conference QB Terrelle Pryor’s decision to end his career at Ohio State, a move that was a surprise of sorts to many Buckeye fans.

Certainly, there were reasons to speculate that he’d played his last in the Scarlet and Grey, but given his legal team’s remarks last week that he was planning on completing the season, it seemed strange for this move at this time.  Particularly given the NFL lockout, his recent evaluation, and his recovery from off-season surgery.

Innocent autograph, or Bigger problem?

Late Tuesday night, news broke that may have answered the “Why Now?” question. First, ESPN reported via Outside the Lines that a former friend of Pryor’s has stated that Terrelle received between $2ok and $40k during his tenure with the Buckeyes by signing memorabilia for free-lance photographer Dennis Talbott.

The former friend, who is identified only as someone who was with Pryor every day until they had a falling out, saw Talbott provide Pryor with merchandise and with cash and checks.  In addition, this source has indicated that Pryor’s celebrity resulted in his receiving numerous loaner cars and free tattoos (reinforcing earlier concerns), as well as free meals and preferential treatment at various Columbus area establishments.

Pryor’s lawyer stated adamantly that his client did none of the things alleged in the report, which went on to describe Pryor’s purchasing habits and verified expenditures on some “lavish” items including those from Gucci.

ESPN also reported that the parent of a former player was aware of Talbott’s “generosity”, stating that

he saw Talbott provide what he called “stacks of money” to active Buckeye players, including a player now in the NFL.

Talbott denied these allegations to ESPN, and said that his only direct connection with Ohio State was to set up signing opportunities for players who had graduated. He also denied receiving tickets for Buckeye games, but will-lists indicated that he and his wife were both at numerous games on behalf of a player throughout 2008.

To complicate matter, Brooks is reporting that the connection may have deeper implications for Ohio State. Talbott allegedly had a signed Pryor helmet on his eBay memorabilia marketplace as of early this evening, and checks from Talbott were allegedly seen as a part of deposits Terrelle was making into his account. On this matter, I’m not sure how that might be provable; but I’m confident that we’ll find out at some juncture.

Additionally, according to Brook’s sources, Ohio State was recently sighted for these payments- if so, his departure this morning would make a bit more sense. As a reminder, only student athletes currently involved in the program are required to talk to the NCAA as a part of ongoing investigations. Pryor’s departure, either of his own choosing or at the encouragement of the University, takes away any leverage that the NCAA Committee on Infractions might have on him, although the investigation into his time in Columbus would certainly continue.

Most troubling for me, though, is Brook’s statement that

Midway through the 2010 football season, Talbott was ordered by Ohio State officials to completely disassociate himself from the program. That move by the OSU athletic administration may indicate that members of the school’s athletic department knew of Pryor’s activities involving Talbott long before the NCAA recently discovered the payment paper trail from Talbott to the former Buckeye quarterback.

While this does show that the University was trying to address any concerns or rumors around Talbott, it may also be problematic for Ohio State in the long run. First, if the concerns were such that there may have been previous violations that were not reported to the NCAA (with Pryor, as Brooks alleges, or with other Ohio State athletes), then it begins to look more and more like either a deliberate cover up or a set of circumstances which indicate inadequate coverage by the University.

Second, although the timeline on this matter has yet to be revealed, if Brooks is accurate that this was discovered by the NCAA and not self reported by the University. it would be the first time during this process that this was the case. One aspect that the University and Ohio State fans (your author included) have held some hope in was that the University was and is being aggressive in trying to address these issues.

Should this not be the case, it may be a difficult set of conversations in Indianapolis in August and beyond.

Yesterday, I wrote-

Do I believe that there’s a larger problem? Not really, for all the reasons that we’ve already said … up. But do I believe that there may be more things to find? Certainly- when you look as closely as the media and University are in the midst of doing you can’t be surprised what is found.

I reserve the right to change my opinion on that first question as this moves on. However, I still think that this process, as painful as it may be, is better than living in denial that there aren’t some things that need correcting.

Comment On Article