Sports Illustrated Investigation Points To Another Tattoo Shop

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A Sports Illustrated investigation released on Monday night alleged that since 2002, at least 28 Ohio State football players traded or sold their memorabilia.

Sources told the magazine that players have been trading memorabilia, including items bearing former coach Jim Tressel's signature, since at least his second season at Ohio State.

Tressel resigned on Monday morning amid an NCAA investigation into the coach's conduct.

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The magazine reported that Tressel violated NCAA bylaw 10.1, unethical conduct, three times.  The first when he failed to act when he was tipped off in April 2010 about six of his players selling their memorabilia for tattoos.  The second was when he signed his standard form of compliance that declared that he knew of no violations.  The third violation was in December when he was not forthcoming with school officials about his knowledge in the investigation.

Robert Rose, who played defensive end for Tressel told Sports Illustrated that he traded and "at least 20" others on the team exchanged memorabilia for tattoos.

The investigation also uncovered allegations that Ohio State players traded memorabilia for marijuana.

A second tattoo shop. Dudley'z Tattoos & Body Piercing, was also mentioned in the article.  The store that since closed its West Broad Street location was allegedly the site where a former artist said that he remembered tattooing at least 15 players.

The artist, Dustin Halko, was quoted throughout the Sports Illustrated article. 

"What they brought in depended on the kind of tattoo they wanted," Halko said in the story.  "If it was just something small, it might be a signed magazine or something like that. If it was a full sleeve, they might bring in a jersey."

Halko and both of his associates told the magazine that Dudley'z became a frequent hangout for Ohio State players.  They said a dozen or more players could be found in the large, back room of the parlor on any given Friday or Saturday night and that drugs were provided by people at the shop.

The owner, Darrell (Dudley) Ross, denied ever trading memorabilia in exchange with Ohio State football players, 10TV's Ashleigh Barry reported.

10TV News made several attempts to contact Ross on Monday night but were unsuccessful.

The owner of the other tattoo shop at the center of the NCAA investigation, Ed Rife, pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.  His attorney told 10 Investigates that drugs were never part of any deals Rife had with players for tattoos at his Fine Line Ink tattoo shop.

"It is categorically untrue that there was narcotics trafficking between the players and Mr. Rife," said Steve Palmer, who is Rife's attorney.

Rife has a court hearing on the federal charges that he pleaded guilty at the end of June.

Tressel is scheduled to appear in front of the NCAA on Aug. 12 to state his case.

Stay with 10TV News and refresh for continuing coverage.

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May 30, 2011:  Sports Illustrated: At Least 28 Ohio State Players Traded, Sold Memorabilia