The NCAA has upped their investigation what is collectively being addressed as "tat-gate" at Ohio State to include at least 50 car sales to Buckeye athletes and relatives. As I'm sure we're all now aware, the NCAA prevents athletes from receiving any benefit not available to any other student, which includes the obvious (like a car with a purchase price of $0, reportedly sold to Thaddeus Gibson in 2009), to the less obvious such as trading an autograph for a free pizza.
This is not likely something that will impact the Tressel situation, as it would be tough to really pin this on the head coach of the football program when there are basketball players in the report as well, but how much stuff has to occur before the NCAA slaps on "lack of institutional control" for the Buckeyes? Perhaps more troubling to Ohio State is the fact that four of the players involved in the "tat" part of tat-gate also appear in the report of shady automotive dealings: Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas, and Daniel Herron. The dealer in question is Aaron Kniffin.
Ohio State is looking into the matter, but have seen nothing improper about Kniffin's transactions. And here's where we enter murky waters. As Dawg Sports put it:
This in and of itself indicates either a) that Mr. Kniffin should write his own sales self-help and networking book and be named employee of the decade, or b) that he was giving deals that other salesmen weren't matching to a discreet class of individuals to whom special deals are impermissible.
Bingo. There might not yet be a smoking gun in this case (although that Gibson "0 dollar car" comes close), but there is definitely enough to think that there is at least something going on here. What's more is that Kniffin claims the Ohio State Athletic Department reviews all his sales, while the AD claims they've only spoken to Kniffin once.
I can't really add much to that Dawg Sports link I posted above. We all know about Pryor's automotive loans, from that 'vette in high school to the car he "borrowed" for a test drive home to PA. While Big Ten officials reviewed that case and, because dealers sometimes allow customers to take extended test drives, found no wrong-doing, it's hard to imagine a deal allowing just any Ohio State Junior to take a 2004 Denali for the weekend.
At some point, it becomes Jim Tressel's job to ask questions about stuff like this. As Dawg Sports points out, which I fully agree with, there are two cases here:
a) Tressel was ignorant of the fact that this kind of stuff is going on in his program
b) Tressel knows about this stuff (from tats to cars) and had kept it from compliance/NCAA
The fact that neither of these options are good or acceptable for the Ohio State football program is troubling to say the least.