Letter Reporting OSU Infractions to Gene Smith

The Reader's Digest recap of the original blog...

June 10 I received a list of names on Ohio State Championship Rings for sale from SellerA. I believe the 1st player just recently graduated, the 2nd player left OSU before he had used all of his eligibility, and the 3rd player is still on the team.

The NCAA already determined this was an individual offense so the program isn't likely to be sanctioned (OSU sanctions were for separate issues), but players could be suspended. Given the potential ramifications, I determined the best course was to report my findings.

June 24 SellerB confirmed and expanded on my initial discovery "...if you want to buy from them then you can but be warned, you'll be part of a huge tattoo gate round 2 as they are currently being investigated by the Ohio State's Compliance Dept. as well as the NCAA investigations comity for doing exactly what the Ed Rife did."

I was relieved I wouldn't be reporting anything new. It also allowed for me to change the tone and content of the report.

June 26 The following is the report letter. I apologize for the format, but SB Nation doesn't readily handle full size documents. The image is the letter, the script text is the cut and pasted from the letter. You can view and zoom the images by clicking on them.



Attention: Gene Smith,

Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics

910 Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road

Columbus, Ohio 43210

If this should be directed to someone else, please forward.

Trolling Gene Smith. I was not certain who I SHOULD report the infractions to, but I was certain who I WOULD report the infractions to. I could dedicate a blog with the ways Gene Smith directly let down the Ohio State fans, alumni, boosters, athletes, and program. If a problem arose from not acting on the report, let it fall entirely on Gene Smith.



All indications are that you are already aware of this, but I wanted to make sure it was brought to your attention to ensure The Ohio State University doesn't inadvertently play ineligible players for the coming year, or suffer additional penalties for the actions of former players.

The fans support efforts to comply with the NCAA (a setup for later comments) and pointing out this involves transgressions that took place years ago, and it primarily involves previous athletes.



I have no direct affiliation with the Ohio State University since 1990 except for 2 donations to a non-sports related student organization, and attending about a handful of football games.

I do not wish my name to be divulged. I believe numerous NCAA recent actions to be coercive and unethical in nature, so with no real affiliation with any NCAA program, I would not want to participate in any investigative action by the NCAA.

Trolling the NCAA. I am not a booster, and the NCAA isn't a legal authority, so don't even think about treating me like a witness under deposition.



I have no intention nor do I see any reason to make the players' names public. You couldn't pay me enough to be a butt head late teen/early 20-something again, I have no faith in the decision making skills of late teens/early 20-somethings, and everyone I know as well as myself did far worse things when I was their age - foolish decisions at that age are not uncommon or unexpected.

Trolling the COI. The athletes didn't break any legal statutes, gain a competitive advantage, or even break recruiting rules - they were teenagers who sold their personal belongings. It is against the rules and they should be punished, but the punishment should fit the infraction, and not the COI's thirst for self-promoting headlines.



Note - Yellow denotes redactions of SellerA's identity and information which could be used to identify SellerA. Orange denotes redactions of the athlete's names. The letter was written for ease of redaction. I didn't want it to look like a released government top secret document if it was released by the NCAA at a later date.

I recently contacted a sports memorabilia seller (sellerA) concerning some Ohio State championship rings he has for sale. SellerA is ________________________________________.

I believe these players have already been disciplined, but cannot verify. I do not know the dates the rings were sold to sellerA. On June 10, 2013 he listed in the attached e-mail the following players as recipients of the rings:

1. 2010... rings size 9.5, 12, and 10.5... ______________

2. 2009... rings size 6.5... ________

He has gold pants. I did not inquire to their original owner. He has other signed memorabilia. I made no inquiry on these nor did I look at their details.

If you are looking for names, they won't come from my blogs. The programs and the NCAA frequently hide the reason a player is missing from a game or leaves a program to protect his privacy, making it hard to tell if the player was disciplined for this infraction. The e-mail with the ring information above, and the e-mail which prompted the response, were included in the letter.



In an attached e-mail, another sports memorabilia seller stated of sellerA "if you want to buy from them then you can but be warned, you'll be part of a huge tattoo gate round 2 as they are currently being investigated by the Ohio State's Compliance Dept. as well as the NCAA investigations comity for doing exactly what the Ed Rife did."

This is the comments of SellerB from my original post. In his e-mail he noted SellerA by name in the preceding sentence. I did not include here for ease of redaction, but this e-mail and the e-mail that prompted this response was included with the letter.



SellerA initially claimed he would not make the original players known, and he did not make them known until extensive correspondence had taken place and I was at the point of making an offer. Anyone other than a serious buyer would not have been granted access to this information from sellerA.

I am providing testimony that SellerA was actively concealing the information from the general public. It is hard for the NCAA to make a valid assertion Ohio State should have known about the infraction if everyone else involved is actively hiding the information.



Ohio State's new policy of requiring players to present awards on a regular basis should prevent this from being a problem going forward. It is only an issue for awards that predated this requirement.

I am reminding anyone who reads the letter these infractions took place several years ago. Monitoring practices have since been installed to prevent future infractions.



I won't detail this except to say I didn't personally find SellerA to be notably more ethical than Ed Rife (or his agent). The motivation for including this arose from Ohio State sanctions based on overlooking lesser transgressions by DiGeronimo. Yo the best of my knowledge Ohio State and SellerA have no affiliation.



I took a few paragraphs to promote the concept that the NCAA should be more active preventing infractions rather than focusing on investigations and sanctions after they occur. It is ridiculous for the NCAA to hold programs responsible for implementing adequate monitoring practices, but refuse requests from their members to define what monitoring practices should be implemented.



Redactions of my identity and contact information were done in red.

The remaining 5 pages of the letter consisted of: 1 e-mail from SellerA where he listed the athletes whose names were on the rings, 1 e-mail from SellerB which contains his quote above, my 2 e-mails which prompted the 2 e-mails above

Update Since the original blog, I have found indications at least 1 current player might have sold his gear. This would have happened before Ohio State put new monitoring practices in place.

Because of numerous requests, I plan to post the e-mails soon. They will be heavily redacted and don't contain anything notable not already provided, but I guess some people have to see for themselves.

For now, keep in mind the NCAA already ruled these are individual and not program infractions, know it probably isn't over, and it may not be limited to Ohio State.

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