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OSU self-imposes reduction of 5 scholarships; NCAA alleges ‘failure to monitor’

Thomas Bradley / Campus editor

Ohio State has self-imposed a reduction of five total football scholarships over the next three years as part of the school and NCAA’s investigation into the overpayment of football players by former booster Robert DiGeronimo.

The NCAA levied a “failure to monitor” allegation against the university as well. In a statement released Thursday, OSU announced the school and the NCAA have concluded their investigation into the matter.

Failure to monitor cases are “usually limited in scope and do not involve the widespread inadequacies in rules-compliance systems and functions that are often found in lack-of-institutional-control cases,” according to the NCAA website.

OSU president E. Gordon Gee met with athletic director Gene Smith to discuss the failure to monitor allegation.

The Lantern obtained a copy of a memo Gee sent to Smith before the meeting, which said:

“I am aware that you took certain actions and believed that you had appropriately distanced (DiGeronimo) from the program. However, the revelations about student employment and student involvement at the Cleveland-area charity gala, both involving Mr. DiGeronimo, indicate that those cautions were insufficient. The consequences were significant for student-athletes and this institution.

“I am disappointed that this is where we find ourselves. You know I find this unacceptable.”

“We look forward to working with the staff and the Committee on Infractions to reach a timely resolution of the case. On a personal note, I deeply regret that I did not ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands,” OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement.

The NCAA still has not announced a ruling after its investigation into OSU, stemming from the Tattoo-gate scandal as well as players being overpaid by DiGeronimo.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said a timetable for that announcement still has not been set. She said the NCAA only sets a “general guideline” as to when a ruling can be expected, despite Smith stating in a press conference on Aug. 12 that he expected a ruling in eight to 12 weeks.

“There are a number of factors that contribute to when the committee’s decision may be announced and because each case is unique, a specific timetable for each case is not provided,” she said in an email.

Josephine Potuto, who previously served on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, wouldn’t comment on OSU’s case, but said the committee does consider the timing of the penalties it assesses.

“Will the Committee on Infractions consider, in terms of certain penalties, where you are in the competitive season? The answer is yes,” Potuto said. “That doesn’t mean the committee has to do it to accommodate, but it will certainly think about when the penalties should take effect.”

Regardless of when a potential penalty against OSU is administered, Potuto said that a failure to monitor designation carries considerable weight.

“A (failure to monitor) penalty would obviously ramp up the penalties from what the case would be if it were the same penalties and there was no failure to monitor,” Potuto said. “Part of the reason it happened is because (a member institution) were asleep at the switch.”

Student reaction to OSU’s preemptive measure of a scholarship reduction varies on campus.

Joe Wilson, a second-year in chemical engineering, didn’t agree with the scholarship reduction.

“I think that’s kind of garbage,” he said. “To cut five scholarships is hurting kids that weren’t a part of it at all. That’s punishing kids that aren’t really responsible.”

Michael Tupa, a third-year in accounting, thinks OSU is doing the right thing in trying to limit penalties handed down by the NCAA.

“I guess it’s good that it’s self-imposed so it shows the NCAA that they take it seriously,” he said.

The NCAA suspended senior wide receiver DeVier Posey for five games, starting with the Oct. 8 game at Nebraska, for being paid for work he didn’t do by DiGeronimo. He will be eligible to return for the Nov. 19 game when OSU hosts Penn State.

Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron and sophomore offensive lineman Marcus Hall, who were also employed by DiGeronimo, were suspended only for the game at Nebraska.

Junior defensive lineman Melvin Fellows was also involved but is out with a career-ending injury, as well as senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, who was permitted to play so long as he repaid the $60 he was overpaid to a charitable organization.

Four OSU football players — Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas — were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban.

Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor had also received a five-game suspension before departing the university on June 7 to pursue a professional career.

 

Jay Clouse and Michael Periatt contributed to this story.

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