Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel was informed that some of his players had sold memorabilia to the owner of a tattoo parlor more than eight months before the school said it was made aware of improper transactions, according to a report Monday night from Yahoo! Sports.
The Web site, citing an unidentified source, reported that Tressel received information as early as April 2010 that players were selling items to Edward Rife, who owns Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has said the local U.S. attorney's office alerted the school Dec. 7 that some of its players were selling items such as jerseys and championship rings to Rife.
Soon after, the school opened an investigation and informed the NCAA of the possible rules violations.
On Dec. 23, quarterback Terrelle Pryor was among five players suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season. All five were allowed to play in Ohio State's 31-26 victory against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
If it is proven that Tressel knew about the possible NCAA violations and did not inform Smith or the compliance office, the coach and the program could face more sanctions.
The other four players suspended were tailback Dan "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey left tackle Mike Adams and Sugar Bowl star Solomon Thomas, a backup defensive end who had the game-clinching interception.
Each player was made to repay to charity the value of what he gained by swapping their memorabilia for cash and tattoos: $2,500 for Pryor, $1,505 for Thomas, $1,250 for Posey, $1,150 for Herron and $1,000 for Adams. Linebacker Jordan Whiting had to pay $150 to a charity for receiving a discounted tattoo.
Ohio State is appealing to the NCAA to get the suspensions reduced, though the NCAA's decision to allow the players to play in the Sugar Bowl drew a wide range of criticism.