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Department of Justice letter reveals more OSU memorabilia transactions

Andy Gottesman / Multimedia Editor

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Ohio State football players have done more business with tattoo-parlor owner Eddie Rife than university officials previously revealed, according to a letter sent by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The letter, dated Dec. 7, outlines more than 30 pieces of football-related memorabilia seized in a raid of the suspected drug dealer’s home. The items all were bought or traded for tattoos since 2008.

“There is no allegation that any of these players were involved in or had knowledge of Mr. Rife’s drug trafficking activities,” the letter says.

OSU spokesman Jim Lynch said the letter was released because of a public records request for the document after the NCAA Notice of Allegations referenced the record.

“The NCAA had this exact list as they prepared their Notice of Allegations and both the NCAA and the university investigated these claims,” Lynch said in an email.

The DOJ said in the letter that it intended to sell the confiscated memorabilia as substitute assets for Rife’s drug-trafficking proceeds.

Five Buckeyes – quarterback Terrelle Pryor, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas – are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits. Coach Jim Tressel will join them for failing to report their violations. Reserve linebacker Jordan Whiting faces a one-game ban.

The NCAA formally notified OSU in a letter dated April 21 of its intent to obtain documents related to the investigation of Tressel and the six players involved.

The notice of allegations listed 14 items that the five suspended Buckeyes sold or traded to Rife, including five 2008 Big Ten Championship rings purchased for a total of $6,500, signed helmets, uniforms, “gold pants” and other memorabilia.

The violations are considered to be “potential major violations” by the NCAA, and the university has until July 5 to compile all requested documents and respond to the allegations.

The names of several players are redacted on the letter because of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, Lynch said.

Players were given tattoos in exchange for 10 pairs of game-worn gloves, four of which were signed.

NCAA regulations do not prohibit players from giving away items as gifts.

Gifts to Rife from players include helmets, shoes and other memorabilia.

One player exchanged his watch and four tickets to the 2010 Rose Bowl for a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, which Rife bought for $3,500.

Other items seized include autographed helmets and footballs, as well as T.J. Downing’s National Championship ring from the 2003 Tositos Fiesta Bowl, purchased on eBay for $7,000.

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