The sweater vest that Jim Tressel values so much had better be bulletproof. Tressel, aleady under investigation for lying to the NCAA, now has his hometown paper looking into the Ohio State version of Big Red Auto
The Columbus Dispatch reports today that at least eight Ohio State athletes and 11 athletes' relatives bought used cars from the same salesman.
Aaron Kniffin, who has worked at both Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct during the past five years is the salesman of record. Doug Archie, Ohio State's Director of Compliance, admits that having just one salesman involved makes him a little nervous. "It's something from a compliance perspective that I would rather not have," he said.
Ohio State said they will look into a total of 50 sales of cars to players or relatives over the past five years. The Dispatch also reported in its article today that records show that in 2009, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with less than 20,000 miles was titled to then-sophomore linebacker Thaddeus Gibson. Documents show the purchase price as $0.
Gibson said he was unaware the title on his car showed zero as the sales price. "I paid for the car, and I'm still paying for it," he said.
Records also show that Kniffin has attended at least 7 Ohio State games as a guest of a player, including the 2007 National Championship contest and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against Texas. It was after that contest that Ohio State barred Kniffin from the players' pass list because OSU rules prohibit athletes from inviting people with whom they do business.
Kniffin told The Dispatch that he has sold cars to at least four dozen OSU athletes and their relatives, that the OSU compliance staff directed them to him, and that university officials reviewed all documents before sales were final.
Archie denied that, saying that he has spoken to Kniffin only once, that he never reviews sales documents and has not directed players to any dealerships.
Kniffin's name is not new to investigations involving Ohio State and cars.
3 times over the past three years Terrelle Pryor has been stopped for traffic violations, and all three times he was driving a car registered to Aaron Kniffin.
Terrelle Pryor's mother and brother have both bought cars from Kniffin, and Pryor took a "loaner" for a 3-day test drive back home to Pennsylvania. Kniffin was at Auto Direct at the time, and the dealership has over two dozen pieces of signed Buckeyes memorabilia including a signed jersey from Pryor.
The Dispatch also reported that Kniffin's $570,000 home is in foreclosure and he owes the IRS $130,000.
The NCAA Infractions Committee will hear a case against Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel on Aug. 12th, which leaves plenty of time for these allegations to be looked into.
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