Ray Small tells all: Ex-Buckeye says he sold memorabilia, some players don't 'think about' rules
Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Ray Small saw it all – and did most of it, too – during his four years suiting up in scarlet and gray.
Small told The Lantern on Wednesday he profited off of memorabilia while at Ohio State, adding that some student-athletes "don't even think about (NCAA) rules."
"I had sold my things but it was just for the money," Small said. "At that time in college, you're kind of struggling."
Small, who played receiver at OSU from 2006-2010, capitalized on the Buckeyes' success during his college career.
"We had four Big Ten rings," he said. "There was enough to go around."
Small said he sold the rings to cover typical costs of living.
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 7 that OSU was investigating more than 50 transactions between OSU athletes and their families and Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct.
Representatives for Jack Maxton Chevrolet did not return repeated requests for comment.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one.
"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it."
Although he understands how athletes are easy targets for getting deals, Small said anyone can take advantage.
"(People say) ‘Oh you got a deal, it's because you're an athlete,'" Small said. "Playing for Ohio State definitely helps. But I know a lot of people that do nothing and get deals on their cars."
The Lantern obtained a police report from shortly after 2 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2007, when Small was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. According to the report, Small was driving a 2007 Chrysler 300 that he told the officer he had just purchased. The vehicle had a dealer plate on it instead of a temporary tag.
Police then received a call from Aaron Kniffin later that morning, wanting to know why the car had been impounded. Kniffin, a salesman at Jack Maxton Chevrolet, told the officer the dealership "gives a lot of coaches and faculty cars and that Mr. Small's family is purchasing the car," according to the report. Kniffin told the officer that paperwork for the car had not yet been worked out.
On Dec. 23, the NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas for five games for selling memorabilia and receiving discounted tattoos from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Linebacker Jordan Whiting earned a one-game ban.
OSU handed coach Jim Tressel a five-game suspension and $250,000 fine for failing to report the players' actions.
Malcolm Jenkins, who played cornerback for OSU from 2005-2008, said the tattoo violation was overblown.
"The tattoo thing is whatever. It's not that big of a deal, but it's one of the dumb rules that the NCAA has," Jenkins told The Lantern on Wednesday. "I don't see what advantage getting free tattoos has to a university to be a violation, but it's whatever. It's in the rules, so it's whatever."
Small said he isn't surprised players couldn't resist the temptation of discounted tattoos.
"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.
The NCAA's notice of allegations sent to university President E. Gordon Gee on April 21 details the infractions that the six aforementioned athletes committed. It also lists a seventh violator, noted under letter "g" in its document. The NCAA accuses that player of having repeated interaction with Rife for a year-and-a-half.
Small said he didn't know much about Rife or Fine Line Ink.
Among the items this mystery player sold to Rife was a 2010 Rose Bowl watch for $250. However, Small, defensive end Rob Rose and running back Bo DeLande were suspended for the 2010 Rose Bowl for a "violation of team rules."
According to athletic department spokesman Dan Wallenberg, that means Small didn't receive a watch.
"Postseason awards are limited to student-athletes who are eligible to participate in such contests under NCAA and Big Ten Conference regulations," Wallenberg said Wednesday in an email to The Lantern.
Rife declined The Lantern's request for an interview.