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.
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