Several of Ohio State's athletic administrators workers drive courtesy cars that are provided by local car dealers, including the director of NCAA compliance, 10 Investigates' Paul Aker reported on Thursday.
10 Investigates asked for permission to take video of Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith's Cadillac and Ohio State director of NCAA compliance Doug Archie's Jeep. The university declined.
So 10TV News took surveillance video to show the free cars that they drive and the conflict of interest that critics say the vehicles create.
"I don't understand it," said Bret Adams, a sports agent who represents both professional and college sports coaches. He said that the arrangement sends a bad message. "I don't understand why -- given the scrutiny that is happening at Ohio State -- why the compliance office would risk this relationship?"
The compliance office is supposed to make sure the athletes are playing by the rules. That means they cannot get access to cars because of their status as players.
As 10 Investigates reported earlier this month, former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor drove a dealer car for several weeks. According to traffic tickets that 10 Investigates found, using dealer cars was a pattern for Pryor. The tickets showed that he was in cars from dealers or car salesmen several times in recent years.
The NCAA is investigating whether Pryor got improper access to the cars and whether other players broke the rules, under the watch of Archie and Smith. Both declined interviews from 10 Investigates.
For Smith, the Cadillac is part of his deal. He earns $800,000 a year and his contract requires a free car for him and his wife. Archie, who is directly responsible for making sure players don't go wrong with car dealers, makes $117,000 a year. He does not have a contract that guarantees a free car.
Archie's car comes from the Buckeye family, Aker reported. He gets his car from Miracle Motor Mart, located at 2380 Morse Crossing. Former 1980s-era Ohio State player Mike D'Andrea, who owns the lot, said he sometimes employs student athletes during the summer.
In exchange for the cars, D'Andrea said he received a pair of season tickets to Ohio State football games.
A university spokesman said that other universities have similar programs.
10 Investigates checked and found the university explanation does not totally hold up. While most Big Ten schools allow their athletic directors to take free cars from dealers, that's not so for compliance officers.
Three other Big Ten institutions -- Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan - said that it is OK for their compliance officers to get free dealer cars. The eight other schools, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin said that they do not allow it.
"There needs to be some separation from the compliance office and who they are regulating, which is the players," Adams said. "In the real world, if you're regulating somebody, you're not cozying up to the people who you are regulating."
One car dealer told 10 Investigates that the dealers have no control over which administrator receives their cars.
The University of Florida also allows its compliance officers to receive courtesy cars. However, the University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma and UCLA all forbid the practice, Aker reported.
Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for continuing coverage.