- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The phone and text message records Ohio State released Monday to The Columbus Dispatch once again place the spotlight on Jim Tressel and Ted Sarniak.
Tressel, the ex-Buckeyes coach, and Sarniak, described as a mentor of Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were in regular correspondence after Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero notified Tressel in April 2010 that Pryor and others might have violated NCAA rules.
From The Dispatch:
After Tressel received an April 2, 2010, email from a former player warning him of potential NCAA violations, the coach exchanged 77 calls and text messages with and spent a total of 4 1/2 hours talking on the phone with Ted Sarniak, the hometown mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor in Jeannette, Pa.
Their longest phone conversation -- 18 minutes -- happened on Dec. 21, two days before OSU announced Pryor and five others would be suspended for part of the 2011 season for violations. The two also spoke for three minutes immediately after the Dec. 23 news conference benching Pryor, Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas and Mike Adams for five games and Jordan Whiting for one game.
Tressel and Sarniak exchanged text messages on March 8, the day OSU announced that Tressel had known about the violations for months.
The Tressel-Sarniak relationship will be a focal point of Ohio State's Aug. 12 hearing before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. Ohio State's compliance office says it properly vetted Sarniak and his connections to Pryor and the program, but the NCAA is taking a closer look.
Ohio State has tried to withhold as many details as it can from these records requests, including some of the email exchanges between Tressel and Sarniak.
The university withheld records of about 5,000 phone calls and text messages made by Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith between April 2010 and March 2011. OSU said the calls and texts were personal and therefore not subject to disclosure.
Other interesting items from the Dispatch story:
There are no apparent phone calls between Smith's cell or office phones and either Sarniak or Cicero.
Records show that Tressel exchanged 31 text messages with Cicero on Christmas Eve. They represent the only known contacts between the two in emails and phone records after they exchanged numerous emails in April and in June 2010.
The first item is good news for Smith, who wants to be as removed from Tressel, Sarniak and Cicero as he possibly can be during the investigation. Although Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee continues to back Smith, the AD can't feel too comfortable until this situation is resolved.
One question sure to be asked Aug. 12 is why Sarniak was kept in the loop so much while Ohio State officials seemingly were not.
2dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy