JEANNETTE (KDKA) — He was a former two-sport standout athlete at Jeannette High School, but now Terrelle Pryor finds himself at the center of an NCAA investigation, looking into whether he received cars and other benefits.
Just three years ago, Pryor was considered the nation’s top football prospect. Now he’s facing a five-game suspension this fall during his senior season for selling memorabilia and accepting free tattoos.
Ohio State and the NCAA have opened a separate investigation into Pryor.
Investigator Andy Sheehan spoke exclusively with Pryor’s former high school football coach about the allegations.
“Terrelle’s a good kid,” Pryor’s former high school football coach Ray Reitz said. “He really is, but he’s a kid.”
Reitz is concerned that while Pryor may be guilty of being naive, Pryor is being scapegoated for the actions of some adults who have led him astray.
Pryor showed up at a team meeting last night in a late model Nissan and on Tuesday, Ohio State confirmed that the NCAA investigators are concerned that he’s driven more than a half dozen cars since his arrival in Columbus. A dealership there confirms giving Pryor succession “loaners” and Reitz says shame on them.
“Why is the dealer giving him cars? You understand what I’m saying,” Reitz said. “Kids are going to take what you give them.”
And investigators are also focusing on Jeannette, where Pryor had a close relationship to Ted Sarniak, the owner of Jeannette Specialty Glass. Early in the investigation it was learned that rather than alert the NCAA, OSU football coach Jim Tressel called Sarniak to tell him that Pryor had improperly sold sports memorabilia.
When the Associated Press requested correspondence between Sarniak and the Ohio State, the university refused. Now, investigators are digging deeper.
“I think that’s the million dollar question,” Reitz said about whether Sarniak stood to gain anything from Pryor. “I think that’s the question the NCAA asking.”
Sarniak was not at the plant today and did not return phone calls, but Reitz said he saw nothing improper while Pryor was at Jeannette.
When asked if he ever saw Pryor accept gifts, Reitz said, “No not at all. I’ve seen him drive Teddy’s car but not accept gifts.”