Ohio State drops review of players’ car purchases

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COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Ohio State University on Tuesday dropped its review of car purchases by football players and family members after two separate investigations found dealerships made money on almost all of the sales.

The university made its decision in light of a report by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and a separate review by the Ohio Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

“We have seen no evidence that would lead us to believe that Ohio State student athletes violated any policies when purchasing used cars,” said university spokesman Jim Lynch.

The reviews were launched after questions about players’ car purchases arose in the wake of a scandal in which some players received cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment.

In a 65-page report issued Tuesday, the state BMV said two Columbus-area dealerships made money on 24 of 25 sales made to players and family members.

The BMV, however, did not interview Ohio State players or officials and did not examine records of financial transactions that players file with the university’s athletic compliance office. The report also did not address whether players received discounts not available to the public. Such a discount could be an NCAA violation.

Jason Goss, owner of Columbus-dealership Auto Direct, said Tuesday that players who bought cars from him did not receive discounts not available to the public.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

“I know what was in our deals. I know what we sold the cars for and what we paid for the cars,” Goss said. “What we made was a normal profit that we would make on any customer that would come here.”

In its report, the BMV said the certificates of titles for 25 vehicle sales by Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct to Ohio State players and their families accurately reflected the vehicles’ sales prices.

According to the report, Auto Direct made money on the 10 vehicles it sold to players and their families and Jack Maxton made money on 14 of 15 sales; one vehicle was sold at a loss because it had been on the lot longer than 150 days.

A BMV investigator found vehicles bought at Auto Direct were sold for an average of $2,000 over their wholesale purchase prices, the report said.

Auto Direct owner Jason Goss told an investigator “he is not in the business to sell vehicles at a loss and has never discounted the price of vehicle in lieu of sports memorabilia or anything related to O.S.U. athletics.”

The BMV investigation found no evidence that tickets and/or sports memorabilia were included in the sales.

“The deals that I did for Ohio State student-athletes were no different than any of the other 10,000-plus deals that I’ve done for all my other customers,” said Aaron Kniffin, the salesman who sold most of the vehicles at both dealerships, in a May 10 affidavit.

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