Ohio State coach Jim Tressel forwarded to a mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor emails that had warned the coach his players were in trouble, but Tressel did not forward the emails to school officials, The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday.
Multiple sources told the newspaper that Tressel sent emails to Ted Sarniak, a businessman from Pryor's hometown of Jeannette, Pa., who has known Pryor for years.
Tressel received emails from a Columbus attorney in April 2010 stating that Pryor and a teammate had been selling memorabilia items to a local tattoo-parlor owner under federal investigation.
The Buckeyes coach didn't share the emails with any Ohio State staff members or NCAA officials investigating Pryor and five other players, resulting in an NCAA violation. Tressel has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, in addition to being fined $250,000.
Tressel nodded his head when asked at a March 8 news conference whether he had forwarded the emails to anyone. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith prevented Tressel from elaborating, as the case is still under NCAA investigation.
Ohio State didn't confirm the forwarded emails to Sarniak, telling The Dispatch it won't comment on the case until the NCAA investigation is concluded.
Doug Archie, the school's compliance director, told the newspaper that Sarniak served as Pryor's primary contact during the recruiting process but isn't considered a booster. Archie said Ohio State reviewed the relationship between Pryor and Sarniak before Pryor enrolled at Ohio State and will continue to do so.
"Mr. Sarniak and Terrelle Pryor have been friends for a number of years, and their friendship dates back prior to Terrelle's enrollment at Ohio State," Archie said in an email to The Dispatch. "As the friendship developed, Mr. Sarniak is someone who Terrelle has reached out to for advice and guidance throughout his high school and collegiate career."
Sources told The Dispatch that Tressel sent the emails to Sarniak in hopes that he could counsel Pryor about the quarterback's actions.
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.