Former Ohio State football player Terrelle Pryor, right, as his agent Drew Rosenhaus, look on during a news conference Tuesday, June 14, 2011, in Miami Beach, Fla

*Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor broke his silence Tuesday, apologizing to Buckeye nation and to now-departed coach Jim Tressel for his role in the controversy that may take down one of America’s proudest programs , reports

As previously reported, Pryor had been suspended by Ohio State and the NCAA for the first five games of what would have been his senior season this fall for accepting improper benefits, such as cash and discounted tattoos. The scandal led to Tressel’s forced resignation.

Tressel acknowledged knowing his players were taking improper benefits but covered it up for more than nine months before Ohio State officials discovered his knowledge.

Pryor appeared with agent Drew Rosenhaus and gave a brief statement. [Scroll down to watch.]

“I say sorry to all the Buckeye nation and all the Buckeye fans across the country,” Pryor said. “I never meant to hurt anybody directly or indirectly with my conduct off the field and I am truly sorry.”

“In terms of coach Jim Tressel, a special shoutout,” Pryor said. “I’m sorry for what all went down and I apologize with all my heart. I love you just like a father. You taught me a lot and I apologize for putting you in a situation and taking you out of a job and place that you loved to be. I regret the fact that you’re not there anymore and I regret the fact that I’m not there anymore.”

The NCAA continues investigating all aspects of Ohio State’s athletic program, particularly the football team, including whether athletes received cars, money or other extra benefits that would be against collegiate rules. Last week, when Pryor revealed that he was leaving school, a former friend of the quarterback told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that Pryor made up to $40,000 annually signing autographs.

Pryor is Ohio State’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks, with 2,164 yards. He also threw 57 touchdown passes, tying a school record, and is now aiming to be selected in the NFL’s supplemental draft this summer.