Updated on June 2, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Head coach Jim Tressel was recently the center of controversy and an NCAA investigation at Ohio State, now it looks like that focus is shifting to quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his cars.
Pryor was seen driving a sports car to a team meeting on Monday hours after coach Jim Tressel’s forced resignation, even though his Ohio driving privileges had been suspended.
Pryor’s attorney, Larry James, confirmed Thursday that the player’s driving privileges have been reinstated after he showed proof that he was insured.
James said Thursday Pryor had since shown proof he had insurance. James said he had a copy of the insurance policy that was in place at the time of the stop.
Pryor’s driving privileges had been suspended for 90 days because he failed to produce proof of insurance when he was pulled over for a stop-sign violation on Feb. 19 in Columbus. Pryor received repeated requests to appear in traffic court to show that he had valid insurance before he eventually paid a $141 fine and court costs on April 2. But Ohio authorities say he has never produced proof of insurance.
Pryor is being investigated by the NCAA for the cars he has driven over his three years as a Buckeye, The Columbus Dispatch has reported. The newspaper also said NCAA investigators are looking into more than 50 vehicle transactions involving Ohio State athletes, their families and friends and two Columbus dealerships.
Said Lindsey Bohrer, a communications officer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety: “Our records do not indicate that (Pryor) has driving privileges in Ohio.”
Pryor was photographed driving a used Nissan 350Z valued between $16,000 and $27,000 to and from the team meeting on Monday night. He drove the same car to a workout on Wednesday.
According to Pryor’s lawyer, there’s a “misperception” about the Buckeye quarterback.
Columbus attorney Larry James provided the purchase agreement for the 2007 Nissan 350Z that Pryor has been driving to workouts this week. Pryor’s mother signed for the car, which cost $11,435.06.
He said because of problems with two previous used cars, Pryor had used three or four loaners. James said from there the “story gets turned into a tornado.”
Before Pryor could renew his license in any state, he would first need to take care of the non-compliance issue in Ohio. His license would be flagged through two systems which monitor problem drivers throughout the country.
Even though his driver’s license is from Pennsylvania, where Pryor is from, the two neighboring states are among 44 members of a “nonresident violator compact” which recognizes citations across state lines. So if he were to be pulled over in most places in the country outside of Ohio, the suspension would still be in effect.
According to Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles records, Pryor was ticketed in November 2008 for driving 99 in a 65-mph zone and in March 2010 for driving 94 mph in a 65-mph zone.
His driver’s license isn’t the only suspension facing Pryor.
The NCAA has suspended Pryor, who will be a senior this fall, for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving cash and tattoos from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner. Four other Buckeyes are also suspended for the first five games for trading autographed jerseys along with Big Ten championship rings and other memorabilia that the U.S. attorney’s office said had a value of $12,000 to $15,000. Another player is suspended for the first game of season.
Tressel was forced to resign on Monday for knowing about the players’ NCAA violations but failing to tell his superiors or the university’s compliance department. He covered up his knowledge for more than nine months – several weeks after the players’ complicity was discovered – before officials working on an appeal of the players’ sanctions learned that he had remained silent.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said the situation at Ohio State has also affected his program. He said he sent people he “leans on” to two Madison, Wis., tattoo parlors to make sure the same thing wasn’t going on.
“If one of my kids gets a parking ticket, I know it the next day,” he said. “We have forms that any vehicle they have, whether it be a car, whether it be a moped, they have to write it down. It’s an NCAA compliance issue. That’s never been in place anywhere else until I came here. I think there’s so many checks and balances to ensure, hopefully, that things can’t happen. Now, a kid could do it and we don’t know about it. But you see a car sitting in the parking lot, a kid getting out of it, you know what’s going on.”
Ohio State officials released on Wednesday the NCAA compliance forms provided to athletes when they go to buy a car. The two-page “insert” delineates what are impermissible benefits (vehicles sold at low or no cost or with special financing to an athlete, family member or friend) in addition to who can co-sign on the loan. Athletes are not permitted to promote any commercial entity, including car dealerships.
“The university requires every student-athlete to provide us with detailed information about any vehicle they are driving or have purchased, including make and model, price, and if there are any co-signers,” Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch said. “We have also worked with local businesses, including car dealerships, to ensure they understand the regulations, and, in the case of the car dealers, work with us to provide advance notice of vehicle sales involving student-athletes.”
Despite all the NCAA turmoil, the Buckeyes still received a verbal commitment in football on Wednesday. Tyvis Powell, a defensive back from Bedford, Ohio, said he would be a part of the 2012 recruiting class.
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