Report: Tressel forwarded e-mails to Pryor’s mentor

Ohio State University athletic director Gene Smith (R) speaks during a news conference as head football coach Jim Tressel (L) listens in Columbus, Ohio, March 8, 2011. Tressel was fined $250,000 and suspended for two games for violating NCAA rules, according to reports. REUTERS/Jay LaPrete (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

When asked earlier this month whether or not he forwarded e-mails that warned him that some of his players might be violating NCAA rules, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel nodded his head. Athletic director Gene Smith then prevented him from elaborating, but we now know at least one person whom the coach forwarded those e-mails to.

According to a report by the Columbus Post Dispatch, Tressel forwarded the e-mails to Ted Sarniak, a mentor to quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

When asked whether Tressel had passed the information to Sarniak, OSU officials said, “We are not discussing any issues relative to the case until it is resolved with the NCAA.”

In a public-records request, The Dispatch asked Ohio State officials for emails involving Tressel and Sarniak, and the university is reviewing its records. So it remains unclear when Tressel forwarded emails to Sarniak, whether the businessman received them and, if he did, what happened as a result.

The Dispatch made numerous attempts to reach Sarniak for comment, both by phone and in person. His wife said the family would have no comment.

The problem for Ohio State and Tressel is that the NCAA will certainly look into Sarniak’s connection to Pryor. I’m not suggesting that Sarniak has done anything wrong, but this situation brings someone outside of the program into the equation, which may or may not be a good thing.

Why Tressel decided to forward the e-mails to Sarniak and not anyone at OSU is unclear. Pryor’s high school coach, Ray Reitz, told the Dispatch that “Teddy has done a lot for Terrelle, and Terrelle has done a lot for Teddy,” so maybe Tressel thought Sarniak could help. Either way, he didn’t notify OSU officials and that’s obviously what has gotten him into the mess he’s currently in.

As if it even were a question before, this report only confirms the notion that this situation for Tressel and Ohio State is far from over.

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