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Released records show Ohio State officials’ concern with former student-athlete

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

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Previously withheld records regarding the Ohio State football team’s “Tattoo-gate” scandal show OSU officials looked into disability insurance for a former Buckeyes athlete and were concerned with the relationship between the student and a person whose name was redacted throughout the records.

The records were obtained by The Lantern after the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that OSU properly withheld certain public records, related to the Buckeyes football “Tattoo-gate scandal that were requested by ESPN.

ESPN sued OSU in July 2011 for withholding records that the sports network viewed as public documents. ESPN said OSU wrongfully cited FERPA, or the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as a reason for withholding various documents.

In line with the court’s ruling, OSU was ordered to hand over several previously withheld emails or documents regarding cable TV network’s request in obtaining all records with the keyword phrase “Ted Sarniak” after redacting the “personally identifiable information.”

Sarniak is a businessman from Jeanette, Pa., and served as a mentor to former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

According to the released emails and documents, on Sept. 5, 2008, OSU associate athletics director for compliance Doug Archie sent a letter to a person whose name was redacted, detailing what he could and could not do in order to prevent a case of “preferential treatment,” or services and special arrangements that normally wouldn’t be provided to the general population.

Archie stressed to the letter’s recipient that if a student-athlete were to receive preferential treatment it would jeopardize the athlete’s eligibility.

In his letter, Archie noted the things and services that, if provided to an student-athlete by an individual, could create a situation of preferential treatment thus putting the athlete’s eligibility in jeopardy.

Additionally, in May of 2009, OSU officials looked into the NCAA’s disability insurance program for a former OSU athlete whose name was redacted after another person, whose name was also redacted, requested the insurance through an outside vendor.

Disability insurance, according to the NCAA.org, is an “insurance program for exceptional student-athletes at NCAA institutions in the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey.”

“The program enables qualifying student-athletes, as approved by the program administrator, to purchase disability insurance contracts with preapproved financing, if necessary. This program will provide the student-athlete with the opportunity to protect against future loss of earnings as a professional athlete, due to a disabling injury or sickness that may occur during the collegiate career.”

The NCAA denied the former-athlete’s request for disability insurance, citing that he was still an underclassman at the time of the request.

Sarniak did not immediately responded to The Lantern’s request for comment. The Oakland Raiders also did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment from Pryor. 

Pat Brennan contributed to this story. 

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