Scarlet and grey dominoes continue to fall. Ohio State’s compliance staff is investigating “at least 50” used car sales at two dealerships to determine whether Buckeye players and family members received discounts which would constitute improper benefits. The sales were conducted by the same salesman, Aaron Kniffin, the guy who orchestrated Terrelle Pryor’s multiple-day test drive.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
The investigation was initiated after The Dispatch found in public records that at least eight Ohio State athletes and 11 athletes’ relatives bought used cars from Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct during the past five years. The investigation will involve outside experts and examine at least 50 sales, focusing on whether the athletes received improper benefits.
The common thread in those two dozen transactions was the salesman: Aaron Kniffin, who has worked at both dealerships.
Kniffin sold cars to multiple players, and players’ relatives, including those who live out of state. Most notably: Beanie and Maurice Wells and their mothers, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor’s mother and brother and Daniel Herron’s father. They must have been satisfied customers. Here is a possible reason why.
According to the Dispatch, former linebacker Thaddeus Gibson bought a two-year-old Chrysler 300 in 2009, with less than 20,000 miles, for a listed purchase price of $0. Presumably, that’s under the market value.
Shockingly, Kniffin’s version of the story has a few holes. He claimed OSU compliance staff reviewed every purchase and directed players to him. OSU head of compliance Doug Archie said he spoke to Kniffin once, never reviews car sale documents and never sent players to him.
Kniffin claims actual sale prices were higher than those listed on state documents. Jason Goss, the owner of one of the dealerships, refuted the claim. Under Ohio Law, listing inaccurate sale prices is punishable by a $1,000 fine and six-months in prison. He also says he’s not an OSU fan, though he and Goss attended seven Ohio State football games as players’ guests, including the 2007 BCS Title game and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Of course, we really should give Kniffin the benefit of the doubt. If you can’t trust a used car salesman, who can you trust?
Allegations about cars have been swirling around the Ohio State program since at least 2004 when Maurice Clarett claimed Jim Tressel arranged free loaner cars for him, Tressel’s brother found him fake summer jobs and Tressel’s staff set him up with boosters who would provide him cash. Another former player, linebacker Marco Cooper, corroborated Clarett’s story, saying he “was able to borrow cars from local Columbus dealerships in exchange for signed OSU memorabilia.” Sounds familiar. Tressel denied the allegations then, but now, can we really accept his word at face value?
Already stocked up on popcorn for Ohio State’s COI hearings. Perhaps, I should invest in some champagne.
[Photo via Getty]