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NCAA, Ohio State compliance launch separate investigation of Terrelle Pryor

Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor

Following the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, The Columbus Dispatch reported that quarterback Terrelle Pryor — already facing a five-game suspension — is being investigated by the NCAA for receiving discounts on cars and other improper benefits.

The report said the NCAA and OSU’s compliance department are conducting a separate investigation of Pryor involving allegations that he received discounts on cars and questioning his relationship with Ted Sarniak, a 67-year-old business man from Pryor’s hometown of Jeanette, Pa., who has been described as Pryor’s mentor.

Pryor has been connected with more than six vehicles since he arrived at OSU in 2008, according to the report. Pryor has been stopped three times while driving cars owned by car salesman Aaron Kniffin or a Columbus used-car dealership where Kniffin worked.

Kniffin told The Dispatch that he allowed Pryor to drive a car to Jeanette to show his mother. He said Pryor did not purchase the vehicle.

OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said he could not comment on the investigation of Pryor.

“The university continues to work with the NCAA as they investigate matters involving our football program, and we will continue to do so until the conclusion of the investigation,” Lynch said. “We are unable to comment on specific players’ situations because of federal law.”

Pryor, along with teammates Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas and Mike Adams, was suspended for the first five games of the 2011–12 regular season for receiving improper benefits, but was allowed to participate in OSU’s 31-26 victory against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. It later was revealed that Tressel knew about the infractions and failed to report them.

Tressel resigned Monday.

A Sports Illustrated report published Monday night said Pryor personally brought in more than 20 items, including helmets, Nike cleats and game pants, to Fine Line Ink, a Columbus tattoo parlor.

In 2008, Pryor was investigated for the ownership of a vehicle before he arrived on campus for his freshman year. He later won the starting quarterback job from senior quarterback Todd Boeckman, becoming the first true freshman quarterback to start at OSU since Art Schlichter in 1978.

In 2009, Pryor raised eyebrows for his defense of Michael Vick after the NFL quarterback was accused of participating in illegal dog fighting rings.

“I mean, everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever,” Pryor said. “I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick, and I always will.”

Pryor won the Rose Bowl MVP in 2010 and passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes defeated Oregon, 26-17.

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