Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel had more contact with star quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s mentors than previously disclosed, the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
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The phone calls and text messages occurred after Tressel learned in April 2010 that Pryor was violating NCAA rules by exchanging memorabilia for cash and tattoos at a local tattoo shop.
Instead of notifying the NCAA or the university, Tressel hid the violations, a transgression that ultimately led to his resignation last week.
According to records released Monday by Ohio State, Tressel exchanged 77 text messages and spent four-and-a-half hours on the phone with Ted Sarniak, a businessman in Pryor’s hometown of Jeannette, Pa.
Records reviewed by the Dispatch show the two spoke for 18 minutes on Dec. 21, two days before Ohio State announced the five-game suspensions of Pryor and four other players in the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal.
Tressel and Sarniak, described as a mentor of Pryor, also texted back and forth on March 8, 2011, the day that the university admitted Tressel had known for months about the violations by his players.
The NCAA has asked Ohio State to fully explain Tressel’s relationship with Sarniak, who often attended Buckeye football games. The NCAA is scheduled to hold a hearing Aug. 12 on the Ohio State case.
The records also show 91 text messages between Tressel and Pryor’s high school coach Roy Hall. Hall previously told the Dispatch he was unaware of the investigation and denied speaking to Tressel about it.