Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s lawyer would not disclose who is paying the quarterback’s legal bills, but he did tell The Lantern on Thursday that he does not anticipate any further sanctions for his client regarding the cars he has driven while at OSU.
Larry James, a Columbus attorney who represents Pryor, explained the quarterback’s vehicle history and said his client did not commit any infractions.
“In order to have infractions, he would have to receive something of a benefit that other students or the public would not normally receive,” James said.
James said Pryor’s mother, Thomasina Pryor, purchased a Hyundai Sonata in 2008 for her son, then a high school senior in Jeanette, Pa. James said the car died sometime during the first year and a half, and was traded in for a Dodge Charger, for which Thomasina also paid. When the Charger began having problems, Pryor traded it in for about $7,800, and purchased a Nissan 350Z for about $11,000 after trade-in.
“The monthly payments are $289,” James said. “That is about a nickel difference between the Charger and the 350Z.”
Pryor drove three or four loaner cars while the Charger was being serviced, James said.
“The idea of getting a loaner when your car is being serviced is pretty standard,” he said.
James would not identify who is paying for his client’s legal bills.
“I can’t tell you and wouldn’t tell you, and it’s inappropriate to tell you,” James said. “The public does not get to know that.”
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, would not say whether the university is funding Pryor’s legal counsel.
“Student-athletes can get their own counsel when their eligibility is at issue,” Lynch said, “but NCAA rules also allow us to provide legal representation.”
James said Pryor had his license reinstated since receiving a ticket for running a stop sign Feb. 17.
“He has his license as we speak,” James said. “He went down (Thursday) to show proof of insurance.”
James said he doesn’t understand the current media scrutiny.
“Particularly for a young student-athlete, I think it’s been awful,” James said. “If you look at allegations about the cars, they have been anything but factual. It has been punitive and I don’t get that.”
Multiple reports have indicated that Pryor, who is facing a five-game suspension, is the subject of an independent NCAA investigation for receiving deals on cars and other improper benefits. Lynch, citing FERPA, could not specifically comment on Pryor’s involvement.
“We have an active investigation with the NCAA,” Lynch said, “and we will be working cooperatively with them until the investigation is resolved.”
The NCAA and OSU’s compliance department are conducting a separate investigation into allegations that Pryor received discounts on cars, and are questioning his relationship with Ted Sarniak, a 67-year-old business man from Pryor’s hometown of Jeanette, who has been described as Pryor’s mentor.
Pryor has been connected with the purchase of as many as eight vehicles since he arrived at OSU in 2008. He has been stopped three times while driving cars owned by car salesman Aaron Kniffin, or a Columbus dealership where Kniffin worked. In a sworn affidavit released by OSU on Tuesday, Kniffin said there were no special deals.
“The deals that I did for Ohio State student-athletes were no different than any of the other 10,000-plus deals that I’ve done for all my other customers,” Kniffin said in the affidavit.
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 took more than 20 items, including helmets, Nike cleats and game pants to Fine Line Ink 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 then-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 at the time. “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.