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Marla Ridenour on Sports

SI story says Ohio State tattoo scandal dates back to 2002

By Marla Published: May 30, 2011

On its web site, Sports Illustrated published the results of its investigation into illegal benefits players have received under Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who resigned Monday.

According to the story, Buckeyes players have been trading memorabilia for tattoos since the second of Tressel's 10 seasons in Columbus and 28 players are involved, not the six who have been suspended for five or one game in 2011. SI's report also said some players traded memorabilia for marijuana and one received a Chevy truck for a watch and Rose Bowl tickets. Some of the items bore Tressel's signature, according to the story.

The violations occurred at Fine Line Ink, the parlor that was raided during a federal drug trafficking investigation and set off the scandal, and at now-closed Dudley'z Tattoos & Body Piercing. An employee at Dudley'z estimated that at least 15 players violated NCAA rules there, including former running back Maurice Clarett.

Current players named by SI who have not been previously implicated include defensive back C.J. Barnett, linebacker Dorian Bell, running back Jaamal Berry, running back Bo DeLande, defensive back Zach Domicone, linebacker Storm Klein, linebacker Etienne Sabino, defensive tackle John Simon and defensive end Nathan Williams. Two others selected in the April draft -- safety Jermale Hines and cornerback Devon Torrence of Canton South -- were alleged by the magazine to have made at least one transaction at the parlor, although both denied the allegations. Torrence's agent, Jim Ivler, told SI his client "is adamant that the allegations are false. ... He can tell you where he got all his tattoos and it was not [at Fine Line Ink]."

Others named were cornerback Donald Washington, running back Jermil Martin, defensive end Robert Rose, receiver Ray Small, defensive end Thaddeus Gibson, wide receiver Lamaar Thomas and defensive lineman Doug Worthington. Small admitted his transgressions to Ohio State's newspaper, The Lantern, last week. Rose, a product of Cleveland's Glenville High School, confessed he needed money and saw no other options.

"I knew how much money that the school was making," Rose told SI. "I always heard about how Ohio State had the biggest Nike budget. I was struggling, my mom was struggling. ... It was just something that I had to do. I was in a hard spot. ... [Other] guys were doing it for the same reasons. The university doesn't really help. Technically we knew it was wrong, but a lot of those guys are from the inner city and we didn't have much, and we had to go on the best we could. I couldn't call home to ask my mom to help me out."

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, one of five players suspended for the first five games next season, is alleged to have traded more than 20 items, which prompted an employee of the parlor to question where Pryor got so much gear. The magazine reported that Pryor responded, "I get whatever I want."

Martin is alleged to have given Fine Line's owner Ed Rife a watch and four tickets to the 2010 Rose Bowl in exchange for a Chevy Tahoe.

The SI investigation also details illegal benefits received by quarterback Ray Isaac when Tressel coached at Youngstown State.

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