Text messages indicate that retired Ohio State University wrestling coach Russ Hellickson pressured two former wrestlers to recant their allegations that they had been abused by a team physician. The messages provided to NBC News also make it clear that Hellickson was pressured to reach out to the wrestlers by U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a former Ohio State assistant coach accused of knowing about the abuse and doing nothing about it.
Jordan, who is not personally accused of abuse, has insisted that he had no idea that team doctor Richard Strauss was allegedly abusing student-athletes while Jordan was an assistant coach in Columbus. But former wrestlers told NBC News that Jordan must have known since the abuse was frequently discussed in the locker room. The wrestlers have so far refused to provide the "statement of support" for Jordan that Hellickson was seeking in his text messages. According to NBC News, one of the wrestlers told Hellickson, "I'm going to contradict you, coach, because I'm telling the truth."
The New York Times reported in July that Strauss has been accused of molesting more than 100 former Ohio State students while he served as a team doctor and professor at the university.
In the midst of the ongoing scandal, Jordan announced last week that he intends to pursue the position of Speaker of the House if Republicans hold onto their majority in the November midterm elections.