Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

NBC News reported tonight that former Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson sent text messages to two former wrestlers—who both have said they believe Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse done to them by their team doctor—asking the men to take back their stories and start defending Jordan.

More than 100 students have reported to Ohio State that Richard Strauss engaged in sexual misconduct with them while he was a university doctor. Strauss died in 2005. But the reports from the former wrestlers have gotten the most national press coverage because Jordan—possibly the future speaker of the House of Representatives—was an assistant coach at the time.

Two wrestlers shared their text messages with NBC News. In one, Hellickson wrote to Dunyasha Yetts that Yetts still can take back what he has said if he wants. “If you think the story got told got wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it,” the text message said. “It might make you feel better.”

Yetts told NBC News that Hellickson also called him on July 4, saying he was feeling pressure from Jordan to defend him.

“He said, ‘I will defend Jimmy until I have to put my hand on a Bible and be asked to tell the truth, then Jimmy will be on his own,’” Yetts said in an interview this week, recalling his conversation with Hellickson. “I told him, ‘I’m going to contradict you, coach, because I’m telling the truth.’”

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Yetts is the only wrestler to say that he directly confronted Jordan and Hellickson about Strauss, and another former wrestler has said he saw Yetts do that. A second wrestler, Mike DiSabato, said he also got a text message defending Jordan from Strauss but “out of loyalty to his old coach, he asked that NBC News not quote directly from it.”

[NBC News]