Former Ohio State receiver Ray Small told the OSU student newspaper The Lantern that he sold Big Ten championship rings and received special deals on cars, adding to the problems the school will face in an Aug. 12 hearing before the NCAA.
According to The Lantern, Small said "everyone was doing it." Small, a Glenville High School product, was suspended multiple times during his Ohio State career (2006-2009). He has returned to school to finish his sociology degree, according to the Associated Press.
Five players and coach Jim Tressel have been suspended for the first five games next season, the players for receiving improper benefits from the sale of memorabilia to the owner of a local tattoo parlor and Tressel for his knowledge and cover-up of the violations.
"We had four Big Ten rings. There was enough to go around," Small told The Lantern. "We have apartments, car notes. 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.' "
Small told The Lantern that many players took advantage of the deals on cars.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," Small told the paper.
Small's comments may further damage Ohio State's case in front of the NCAA. What could be most troubling is that OSU eventually banned car salesman Aaron Kniffin, who worked at Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct, from the players' ticket pass list because school rules prohibit athletes from inviting people with whom they do business, according to a Cleveland.com story. The NCAA might wonder why the OSU compliance department didn't investigate Kniffin further.
According to The Lantern, former Buckeyes basketball player Mark Titus wrote Tuesday on his blog Club Trillion that many were aware of the perks available to football players.
"Any OSU student in the past five years could tell you that a lot of the football players drive nice cars," Titus wrote, according to The Lantern. "You'd have to be blind to not notice it."
The Lantern seemed to have found the perfect whistle-blower in Small, who was continually in Tressel's doghouse.
"When I was in college, in my opinion, I was the bad guy,'' Small told The Lantern.
In the minds of OSU fans, he really is the bad guy now. Small will almost certainly be called to testify before NCAA investigators.
It would be ironic if the person who ultimately brings down the OSU football program and Tressel is Small, a player who was supposed to fill the shoes of Ted Ginn Jr. but never reached his potential. In the Tressel era, running back Maurice Clarett was the first to criticize the university and bite the hand that fed him. Small seems to have taken that one step further.
When he finishes his college degree, Small may be forced to leave Ohio, just as former quarterback/turned ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit did. Fearing for the safety of his wife and children earlier this year, Herbstreit moved his family to Nashville.
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