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Spring Game breathes $194K into charity

Lantern file photo

The scene for Ohio State football’s 2011 Spring Game was set against gray, stormy skies, and a far-from-capacity crowd took in a scrimmage that pitted the Buckeyes’ offensive and defensive units against each other.

Some might have needed to refer back to their game program to remember how many points a sack was worth, but there was a silver lining for the Silver Bullets – OSU turned a profit of $194,109. That money is used to fund a university outreach program.

There’s a chance for even greater contributions to the same program this year with attendance already guaranteed to increase.

The offense won the weather-shortened 2011 Spring Game, 59-27, in what Buckeye Nation now knows to have been former coach Jim Tressel and former quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s final “game” at the ‘Shoe. Despite the specter of an NCAA investigation and the nearing departure of Tressel and Pryor, OSU’s net revenue went to Life Sports, which benefits economically disadvantaged youths from many areas of Columbus.

Ben Jay, executive associate athletics director, told The Lantern that Life Sports is the university’s largest outreach program and is funded primarily by the athletic department.

“For the most part, (Life Sports’) budget is subsidized and funded through athletics,” Jay said in an email to The Lantern. “The program does receive some funding from a grant, but it doesn’t cover the annual expense for the program.”

Funding from the Spring Game – Life Sports is subsidized by a $225,000 budget – came from the last of Tressel’s 10 Spring Games as OSU coach. Tressel was forced to resign from his post after knowingly fielding ineligible players during the 2010 season.

Pryor, along with former OSU players DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas, were each suspended for five games as a result of receiving improper benefits for trading Buckeyes football memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. Brandon Whiting was also suspended for one game.

Tressel and the players who were suspended during the 2011 season participated in the game, though Pryor held a clipboard, wore a headset and did not play in the game.

Pryor later departed the university June 7 and was selected by Oakland Raiders Aug. 22 in the NFL supplemental draft.

Then-freshman quarterback Braxton Miller also made his debut as a Buckeye in the 2011 Spring Game.

If ticket sales are any indication of fan interest in the upcoming edition of the Spring Game, and Meyer’s arrival at the ‘Shoe, Life Sports could be in store for a large payday.

In an email to The Lantern, Brett Scarbrough, assistant athletics director of ticketing and premium seating, confirmed that attendance for the 2012 Spring Game has already surpassed that of 2011, saying that “just over 60,000 tickets had been distributed” as of noon Wednesday.

Scarbrough also said ticket prices would hold steady in 2012 – admission to the 2011 game cost $7 in advance, $15 on the day of the game and was free for OSU students and children less than six years old.

Several OSU students told The Lantern they’ll be there when Meyer and his team run out of the tunnel onto the turf field Saturday.

“It gets a lot more people excited about (the game),” said Lisa Davis, a third-year in finance. “I think (the price) should be low to start with.”

Casey Leech, a second-year in economics, said he is looking forward to Saturday’s game for several reasons, including getting a look at Meyer’s new recruits.

“It’s basically his first task to see what (Meyer’s) done in the offseason as far as recruiting goes and keeping players,” Leech said. “Basically it’s just an exhibition to see how good the Buckeyes look. The best part about it is that Ohio State wins regardless.”

OSU’s Spring Game is set to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jackie Storer contributed to this story.  

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