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Ohio State University officials remained in contact with a memorabilia dealer they were investigating for wrongdoing and used him as a mole to rat out others, according to records released this month in response to a public records request submitted by ESPN.
First, a little helpful context: Sales of licensed collegiate merchandise is a multimillion-dollar revenue stream for the university. And, as we've seen time and time again, the memorabilia and autographs area can be an NCAA violation concern, too.
As far back as 2009, Ohio State officials had concerns about local photographer Dennis Talbott selling autographed photographs and items from players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor. But rather than cut off Talbott entirely, the university maintained communication with him in order to root out unlicensed memorabilia dealers who were selling OSU items -- including those with the signatures of players. Players are not allowed to make money from their autographs, and it is up to the school to police such matters.
• Talbott plate
• Trademark trouble
• Varsity O agreement
• Talbott email
• Tressel signature?
• Dispatch concerns
• Talbott knows?
• Pryor concerns
• Talbott helps
Talbott's connections, and questions about his relationship with Pryor and other players who allegedly received money for autographs, came to public light last summer. Pryor and Coach Jim Tressel already had left OSU, and an NCAA investigation had already begun of Pryor, other players, and Ohio State because the players had traded memorabilia and autographs for tattoos from a Columbus tattoo parlor. Tressel admitted knowing about the exchanges and not reporting them to the university's compliance officials, a violation of NCAA rules.
"Outside the Lines" reported last year that Talbott, who had a van with vanity plates that read "TPRYOR," paid Pryor between $20,000 to $40,000 in 2009 for signed merchandise -- all potential NCAA violations. Talbott has consistently denied the allegations, as has Pryor's attorney. Officials with OSU also declined comment at the time.
Ohio State was alerted about Talbott in the summer of 2009 by employees at a country club who knew Talbott treated Pryor and other players to rounds of golf. (The NCAA would later cite Ohio State with a violation because it determined player DeVier Posey accepted a $102 round of golf while on an outing with Pryor and Talbott that summer.) And Ohio State also had been alerted to possible unauthorized memorabilia sales by Talbott, yet the freelance photographer was granted a 2009 media pass anyway. But he did not receive one in 2010.
In August 2009, Rick Van Brimmer, Ohio State's director of trademark and licensing, described Talbott's company, Varsity O Memorabilia, as one of the more "egregious" examples of unauthorized use of images and logos.
And on Aug. 26, 2009, the university sent Talbott a letter to "cease and desist" his use of any Ohio State images or trademarks. Just two days later, an email states that Talbott's case has been "cleared." The contents of several other emails sent during that time have been completely redacted by the university citing student privacy laws and attorney-client privilege.
ESPNDennis Talbott in Columbus, Ohio.
Then in October, email messages between Van Brimmer and Talbott -- in a seemingly collegial tone -- show how Talbott provided information on other memorabilia dealers selling unlicensed merchandise. In one of his emails, Talbott even tells Van Brimmer, "I'm learning that everyone in this business are (sic) shady to a point. Really sad honestly."
On Oct. 15, Van Brimmer sent Tressel an email asking if he knew anything about photos signed by the coach and Pryor likely being sold by Talbott or another memorabilia dealer. Van Brimmer said he assumed the coach's signature was fake, and Tressel responded by saying he never signed any such photo.
Concerns about Talbott continued into 2010, even though Talbott didn't have a media credential for that season. A letter from Columbus Dispatch editor Benjamin Marrison to OSU compliance director Doug Archie names Talbott among a list of people selling photos without permission, which was a concern for the newspaper because it had an agreement with the university for selling photos. But an email from Dec. 22, 2010, indicates that Van Brimmer was still working with Talbott to get more information about other memorabilia dealers. And in January 2011, OSU compliance and licensing officials discuss concerns about Talbott shopping a current player -- whose name was redacted -- around for autographs. A source, who asked to remain anonymous, has confirmed to ESPN that the player was Pryor.
An April 14, 2011, email outlines the relationship Talbott had with OSU: "Dennis has had photo credentials in the past, and was identified selling player photos on-line and at memorabilia shows. We first met with him in the spring of 2009 when we identified his work on ebay. Subsequent meetings took place through the fall of 2010, and he became a source of information about others who were engaged in similar activities."
It's unclear from the emails and documents to what extent the university investigated allegations that Talbott secured the signatures of active players, especially Pryor, in exchange for giving them a cut of the sale.
The documents released to ESPN -- requested in June and delivered Feb. 6 -- include letters from the university's licensing office as well as copies of emails. Ohio State redacted information in many of the documents, including some names. Some of the emails were entirely redacted. ESPN sued Ohio State in July over other public records requests. Among its arguments, ESPN claims OSU cited an inapplicable federal student privacy law in withholding or redacting records. The lawsuit remains active.
So did Ohio State have the opportunity to cut off Talbott entirely and choose instead to use him as a mole to glean information on other dealers who might be affecting the university's bottom line? The documents don't state for certain, and it's not for The File to decide.
OSU spokesman Jim Lynch told The File university officials were never able to substantiate any of the tips they received about Talbott and that the ongoing communication with Talbott shows that the university was "closely monitoring the memorabilia marketplace."
"These records illustrate the university's extensive efforts to investigate and deter unauthorized memorabilia sales," Lynch would later write in an email to The File. "This included improvements to its credentialing process making clear that photographs taken at games cannot be sold on the secondary market and must only be used for editorial purposes" unless the entity has a licensing agreement with the university.
Rehatching TP selling sigs./memorobilia for cash....didn't really see anything new here.
ESPiN just can't let it go!
that is exactly right 3yd...jus tryin to keep the same b.s. in the news so the sheeple will forget all about Bama's troubles
While not saying a word about Miami or all the other crooked teams out there, ESPIN can kiss my ass!!
WWW.WTSAC.ORG Woody & Tony's Strokes Against Cancer.
I hate when I feel like a conspiracy theory quack, but the timing does seem interesting as the So Carolina/nc2a news hits the wire e$pin floats another recycled/rehash of the Talbott connection. I feel bad for the gamecock fans as they have to look on page 2 for news due to the Buckeyes dominating the headlines with breaking news of Gordon Gee changing from a Bowtie to a Bolo.
No say it isn't so, that would be like Tress changing from a sweater vest to a sports coat it's just not natural.
Be careful with these kind of threads. They may induce Tornado Zadar to crawl back out from under his rock.
If TOSU could just get their BB Games off ESPIN,I'd never have to even tune it in.At least they don't have the NCAA and B1G Tourny's...F'EM
The conference needs to step in. It pisses me off that we are being singled out and the B10 does nothing.
Ridiculous, OSU tries to do what it can to weed out the bad apples and ESPN still rips on them.
WTF? They have their right to report on Ohio State, but what the hell is going on with Miami, psu, bama, Oregon??? Nothing
ESPIN is absolutely terrible and biased as all hell
I disagree....this is good reporting by ESPN. Remember, this would have came out much earlier but OSU waited on delivering the docs to ESPN.
I don't care if ESPN does or does not investigate other programs. I want my school to be clean.
Call up the NCAA as I am betting that they don't have any of this information after only spending a year in Columbus.
Man, ain't that the truth? What the f&ck is wrong with these guys? Did OSU piss in their Cheerios or something? It's been nothing but good news since december I guess. So, if I read this crap right, ESPeeIN is trying to say that OSU didn't care too much about NCAA wrong doing, they just wanted to use this guy to find out about other folks selling unlicensed stuff and cutting into OSU's profits? I guess they just vcan't believe that we "got off" so easy! Lord!
TZ, Everyone should have known that E$PeeIN was going to have some kind of story ready when they got whatever was sent to them. I say..."So what?" This is nothing. The NCAA already knows about everybit of this. If not, they are the most incompetent organization on the face of the earth and they should be investigated as well for assisting in a cover up. This is E$PeeIN spinning their lawsuit in the court of public opinion. Good reporting? Maybe if you work for the National Enquirer! I understand and agree for the desire to have the school clean. To be completely clean today is a unrealistic expectation. Don't care about other schools? Sure! Let's just continue to read about MAJOR water under the bridge with OSU, while more crack parties go on at South Beach, or more little boys get prison raped in the shower at State College. I'm sure those situations were far less interesting and less important than some folks selling memorabilla at OSU.
Agreed 100%! Where the hell is the B1G & the NCAA for that matter.
Spoken just like TZ. There is no denying it. WORD FOR WORD
Ya know, this article was from a couple of days ago, and appears to be from a backdoor part of E$PeeIN.com. Has there been anything more said about this elsewhere? Is this just a prelude to more sensationalizing, prodding and digging by these ridiculous, spiteful assholes? Can we not expect another "outside the Lines" encampment @ the WHAC? These idiots need to get a damn life! Good lord the sports news must be slow right now! This tells us how exciting the NBA & NHL really are!
This post was edited by BIGBUCK20 2 years ago
It's all about OSU stone walling them against their suit to release private student records. They will get over it or they will simply die from excessive bleeding from the vaginia.
A19 likes small boys
ESPN held on the Bernie Fine tapes for over 10 years. Wonder how many kids were harmed by them being selective on what they report? ESPN is a sham
all thats missing is an.... I told you so
Good luck with that!
they're truly sick and twisted
They're not the only sham.
Add to that the bad light E$PeeIN brought on itself with the Lin racial slurs.
I am no lawyer, but if this continues I wonder if OSU's legal team would have a ground to stand on for some type of civil suit, especially if OSU is able to show the court how ESPN has not went after any other school with the same verocity as they have OSU? I do not think that it could be slander/defimation because it appears that ESPN is not making this stuff up, but again I am not a lawyer, so I do not know.
We may disagree on issues, but at the end of the day we are all Americans - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSJoZiB-UGY&ob=av2e
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