Five-star defensive end Micah Parsons was once a favorite to land at Ohio State — that was until Ohio State agreed to stop recruiting the class of 2018 prospect because of self-reported NCAA violations that occurred during his official visit on Sept. 9.
Ohio State self-reported the violations to the NCAA on Sept. 26. The violations, which The Lantern obtained through a public-records request, were the result of improper contact that happened during the recruit’s visit to the set of ESPN’s College GameDay at The Oval prior to the Buckeyes’ game against Oklahoma.
As a result of the infractions, Ohio State agreed to no longer recruit Parsons and declared him ineligible for an unknown amount of time.
Parsons is unnamed in the self-reported violation records, due to FERPA protection, and is referred to as a “2018 prospective student-athlete.” But he is believed to be the recruit implicated in the report because he was photographed on the College GameDay set and retweeted pictures of him with former Ohio State quarterback and current College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit, former Ohio State running back and College GameDay celebrity guest picker Eddie George, and College GameDay analyst Lee Corso and host Rece Davis.
While on a campus tour led by football recruiting assistant Ed Terwilliger, the recruit met Herbstreit on the show’s set, took a photo with two College GameDay analysts who are not former Ohio State players — believed to be Corso and Davis — while sitting on-stage, and met George off the set, according to the records. Though recruits on official visits are able to speak with former student-athletes of the school they are visiting, they are not allowed to “have contact with members of the media associated with former student-athletes.”
“As such, a violation of NCAA Bylaws 13.10.1 and 126.96.36.199 occurred, as members of the media may not be present during an institution’s recruiting contact with a prospect and a prospect may not participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the prospect’s visit to the institution,” Ohio State’s self-violation report said.
According to the records, Terwilliger allowed the recruit and his parents to enter College GameDay’s production area in front of the set, which is inaccessible to the public. The group was then given credentials by a producer of the show. The action is regarded as an improper benefit by the NCAA, and was self-reported by Ohio State.
As a result of the violations, Terwilliger was suspended one game and received a letter of reprimand. The compliance office also prevented every athletics program from “being in the vicinity” of the College GameDay set for the rest of the 2017-18 academic year. The compliance office will “provide additional compliance education” to Ohio State’s football recruiting staff. College GameDay producers and analysts will also be “provided education” during future broadcasts involving Ohio State.
Following Ohio State’s self-imposed punishments, the NCAA determined “no further action should be taken by the NCAA enforcement staff.”
How Ohio State determined the punishments remains unclear. But in the records, Ohio State said the punishments are consistent with those in four similar self-reported cases.
While on a visit of campus with Terwilliger, the recruit’s parents requested to stop at the set of the ESPN show since they had never seen it before, according to the records. After Herbstreit recognized and greeted Terwilliger, the group entered the production area and were given credentials by a producer. Then, Herbstreit invited the recruit on the stage following a commercial break. The recruit posed for a photo between “two nationally known ESPN analysts,” then headed off the stage with his father to rejoin Terwilliger and his mother when the show was about to return to the air.
Once off the stage, Herbstreit introduced the recruit to George. Terwilliger, the recruit and his parents then left to continue the tour of The Oval and academic buildings.
Monday morning, Parsons posted a tweet announcing his intention to commit to a university on Wednesday during the early signing period. In the tweet, he included Ohio State as one of his top-six schools. Parsons is the fourth-ranked player in the nation and top weak-side defensive end, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Parsons has experienced a turbulent recruiting process. On Sept. 9, he tweeted that he would consider making a quarterback change from J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins, then apologized the following morning. Head coach Urban Meyer said he was “made aware of it” on Sept. 10.
ESPN declined to comment. Parsons did not respond to requests for comment. Ohio State is unable to comment due to Parsons not yet having signed a letter of intent.