Eminence Front?

By Luke Zimmermann on May 7, 2011 at 9:47 am

In lieu of recent events that have transpired, it's a far departure from cynicism to approach even the slightest bit of bad news on the Ohio State horizon with a heavy dose of jadedness. And there's this:

Ohio State University's chief enforcer of NCAA rules said yesterday that he will investigate used-car purchases made by dozens of OSU athletes at two Columbus car dealers to see if any sale violated collegiate rules.

The investigation was initiated after The Dispatch found in public records that at least eight Ohio State athletes and 11 athletes' relatives bought used cars from Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct during the past five years. The investigation will involve outside experts and examine at least 50 sales, focusing on whether the athletes received improper benefits.

While the age old process of athletes receiving wink deals in an industry (one heralded by even many common folks as not exactly morally scrupulous to begin with) with rather large deltas for negotiated end prices is hardly a new development, Ohio State and words of suspect car arrangements are unfortunately nothing new of late. Though perhaps less ominiously one of the dealerships in questions was one already cleared by Ohio State and the NCAA for the bizarre loan practices benefitting already suspended Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, far more worrying is the relevelation that Ohio State associate athletic director Doug Archie would be re-opening an investigation after revelations that as many as 40-50 (or perhaps more) Ohio State football players (and maybe more troubling, their families) had purchased cars from the same few dealerships with a common employee (an individual now no longer employed in the craft even in the state of Ohio). While the Dispatch's crack team of word-slingers (non-sports writers at that)'s unearthed revelations include that both Jack Maxton and Auto Direct routinely call Ohio State compliance when an athlete is ready to close the deal on one of their vehicles, sentences like these of late are pretty far removed from being conducive to possessing a semblance of peace of mind:

Auto Direct's showroom is filled with autographed jerseys from former and current players who have purchased cars from Kniffin.

Goss, who said he is a big Buckeyes fan, said he received no memorabilia from players, who autographed jerseys he had purchased while buying their cars.

Then again restaurants up and down High Street have signed memorabilia. As long as the institutions purchased the items legitimately under good faith and the autographs were done with no monetary/proprietary gain, it's innocent enough. Further, with likely little chance to tie together any of the number of former players in the Tressel era (Thad Gibson, Doug Worthington, Rob Rose, Solomon Thomas, Kurt Coleman's brother, Boom Herron's father, DeVier Posey, Chris Wells, Maurice Wells, Chris Wells' mother, and Terrelle Pryor's brother and mother) and those falling under Matta's jurisdiction (William Buford as well as Jon Diebler's parents) to individuals within the respective coaching circles possessing any direct knowledge of the transpirings (should circumstancial evidence prove damning), it'd be a stretch to afford all the blame (should illegitimacy in the NCAA's eyes come to light) to either staff. That said, it doesn't exactly provide much credence in the school's on going case to prove that they're operating within the bounds of the same competitve landscape as the rest of the NCAA's member institutions at a time they need to the most. The sheer volume there of a-names on the list and particularly coming across four of the individuals tied into the existing memorabilia scandal does nothing in the area of making the story seem any less likely to have legs. There are situations and times when maybe having athletes reap grey (and by grey I only mean subjective) "benefits" afforded them in every major college town across the country and then there's this, amidst the most contentious, divisive time in Ohio State's modern athletics history:

Public records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.

Whether this is on any individual and whether anyone knew about it or not, the mountain of allegation and innunendo makes it harder and harder to think the future can't hold some kind of major sea changes, be at the coaching level, administrative, or perhaps even university wide.

View 67 Comments