Photo courtesy of the Ohio Union
Former Ohio State wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes returned Monday night from a four-game suspension following a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy.
But instead of focusing on his future and his team’s next opponent, Holmes on Tuesday was forced to again answer questions about his troubled past.
Sports Illustrated reported that Holmes was one of many college football players asked to accept money from former agent Josh Luchs.
Holmes told Luchs that he was already taking money from a different agent, Luchs said.
In a phone interview with The Lantern, Luchs said he wasn’t the first to contact Holmes while the receiver was at OSU.
“That wasn’t a typical situation. I was basically shut down immediately with the response being that he was basically getting taken care of by somebody else,” said Luchs, who also represented former OSU running back Maurice Clarett. “So I just took it as I was too late for the dance. But, obviously, as I progressed on, I wasn’t going to participate in that stuff anymore.
“He was already involved, so it was very refreshing for him to be so forthright and man-to-man,” Luchs said. “I appreciate him not wasting my time.”
Luchs said he appreciated Holmes’ being forthright about taking money from another agent.
“You know what, I applaud Santonio for being straight-up and being forthright with me when I got there and not making me go through my song and dance and wasting my time,” Luchs said. “I wish more players were that honest with what they were doing, and I applaud him for it.”
In the SI article, Luchs reveals how he got his foot in the door with player-agent relations and details how he violated NCAA regulations by paying college football players.
“In November 2005 … I flew to Ohio State to talk to receiver Santonio Holmes,” Luchs wrote in the SI article. “We met him outside the football building, and he said, ‘Listen, I want to save you the time. We don’t need to meet. I’ve been taking money from (an agent) the last couple years, and he’s been taking care of my family too.’
“Had it been 10 years earlier, I would have probably said, ‘Santonio, whatever he’s paying you, I’ll double it.’ But … I had Hollywood to sell. Let the other agents pay kids.”
Luchs told The Lantern that the encounter with Holmes was the only interaction the agent had with the Buckeye receiver.
“I wasn’t involved with Santonio Holmes other than the fact that my other agents went to go recruit him,” Luchs said. “Other than that one conversation, I’ve never spoken to him before, never spoken to him since.”
Through a New York Jets spokesperson, Holmes denied that he ever told Luchs he was receiving money from an agent while in college, SI reported.
“He denied it. That’s fine,” Luchs told The Lantern. “I mean, what is he going to say? Plenty of people deny things that are true. It doesn’t matter. I still appreciate his honesty one-on-one when it mattered. It doesn’t matter what’s said publicly.”
Athletic programs cannot be penalized for violations involving players more than four years after they leave college, according to NCAA rule.
The OSU athletic department was still investigating as of Tuesday night.
“We just learned of the article,” OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an e-mail. “Our compliance staff is in the process of gathering information.”
OSU compliance director Doug Archie held the same position at Utah in 2005, when Holmes allegedly accepted the money.
Heather Lyke, Archie’s predecessor, could not be reached for comment.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith told The Lantern in September that such conduct isn’t representative of most agents.
“Do we have some bad people in the business? No doubt,” Smith said. “But 99 percent of our people are trying to do it the right way, and outside influences take them to where they are. It worries me constantly that our education sessions might not work.”
Holmes played for the Buckeyes from 2002-05. He redshirted during OSU’s championship season in 2002.
He was the 25th overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh dealt him to the New York Jets on April 11, shortly after the NFL announced that Holmes would be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season following his violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.