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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Updated: August 18, 10:39 AM ET
OSU denies Terrelle Pryor lawyer claims

ESPN.com news services

Ohio State denied a contention from Terrelle Pryor's lawyer that the former Buckeyes quarterback told the NCAA in May about additional violations he committed while at the school.

An Ohio State spokesman told ESPN on Wednesday that Pryor did not tell the school or the NCAA about any additional violations. That contradicts what Pryor's attorney David Cornwell told ESPN earlier in the week.

Cornwell told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Pryor admitted Ted Sarniak gave Pryor and his mother cash and helped with car payments. After a 2008 NCAA investigation into Pryor's recruitment, Sarniak, a family friend, was told he could no longer give Pryor money or gifts.

Another Pryor attorney, Larry James, told ESPN that Pryor received benefits from Sarniak, including cell phone payments.

The NCAA is checking into a trip Pryor made to the Miami area during spring break in March that his mentor, Ted Sarniak, might have helped arrange, two sources told the Columbus Dispatch. James told ESPN that Pryor stayed at Sarniak's house on spring break.

The NFL on Thursday declared Pryor eligible for the supplemental draft but ruled he can't play in the first five games of the season. Cornwell has said he believes the violations would make Pryor eligible for the draft, because it would have affected Pryor's 2011 eligibility. The draft had been scheduled for Wednesday, but Tuesday night was postponed while the NFL reviewed Pryor's status. The draft will not take place Monday, Aug. 22.

"Terrelle was fully forthcoming and subsequently provided the documents that were requested to support the disclosure," Cornwell told ESPN. "The NCAA has a procedure where they can automatically audit bank accounts of student-athletes who are on financial aid. If those bank statements add up to a substantial amount more than what has been provided through financial aid, they ask why. Terrelle provided them with those answers and, as I said, the documents the NCAA requested."

James told ESPN he could not explain Ohio State's denial about the new disclosures. Cornwell was unavailable for comment.

However, ESPN has acquired documents from a source that confirm Pryor met with NCAA enforcement staff members on May 20. On May 31, James also supplied NCAA associate director of enforcement Tim Nevius with notorized records from The Huntington National Bank of Columbus, Ohio, on two accounts belonging to Pryor that are described as "Dec. 14, 2007-present" and "March 1 2010-present."

The transcripts of Pryor's meeting with the NCAA were not included in the documents obtained by ESPN but a source said Ohio State may have been unaware of the specific disclosures Pryor provided in the May 20 meeting, as well as the bank records that were requested by the NCAA stemming from those disclosures.

Ohio State is still under NCAA investigation, and Sarniak's payments have not been addressed publicly. James said the benefits Pryor received from Sarniak were sufficient to make him ineligible for the entire 2011 season, beyond the five games he was suspended for the tattoos and memorabilia scandal.

"What we provided for NFL Security (on Aug. 5) was a road map, a timeline and the documentation," Cornwell said. "Terrelle cooperated, and the violations occurred during a period well before the (April) draft. That's the key. Those disclosures and documents would have made Terrelle ineligible for the entire 2011 season, and once he made those disclosures to the NCAA, he withdrew from school."

Pryor announced he was leaving school June 7, eight days after coach Jim Tressel resigned at Ohio State.

Sarniak was identified in 2008 as a family mentor who accompanied Pryor during an official recruiting visit before Pryor signed a letter-of-intent with Ohio State.

An NCAA investigation into the relationship concluded that benefits provided during that process did not constitute a violation, but Sarniak was notified he no longer could provide money, meals or other benefits for Pryor.

When Tressel learned Pryor and other players were selling memorabilia for cash and tattoos, he forwarded the information to Sarniak and not to Ohio State officials, part of the chain of events that later led to the coach's resignation.