OSU Imposes Scholarship Reduction

Ohio State received what it believes is its final Notice of Allegations from the NCAA earlier this month and responded as guilty to all charges, including a failure to monitor booster Robert DiGeronimo. The school also self-imposed the loss of five scholarships over three years and now will wait for a final NCAA ruling.

Ohio State's NCAA fate appears to be moving closer to a solution as the university released new punishments related to the violations involving money for work not performed by five student-athletes that broke about a month ago.

The university's response to the NCAA, released today, includes the addition of a new sanction, the loss of five scholarships over a three-year period. In addition, the NCAA has hit the school with a "failure to monitor" charge, which OSU agrees with, in relation to the activities of disassociated booster Bobby DiGeronimo.

The school now believes the continuing investigation into the football program has concluded and will now await the governing body's final decision on punishments.

"Over the past three months, our athletics department staff has continued to work cooperatively with the NCAA to conclude our inquiry into the remaining items related to our football program," athletic director Gene Smith said. "Throughout the entire process since we discovered possible infractions, the athletics department has consistently worked with the NCAA to investigate any allegation, take responsibility, self-report its findings to the NCAA in a transparent manner, and take necessary remediation steps. That is what we have done on this last open issue, and we accept that we should have done more to oversee Mr. DiGeronimo's activities.

"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."

While the NCAA said it would like to discuss the charges during a previously scheduled meeting Dec. 10 in Florida, OSU included in its response that it requests the NCAA Committee on Infractions review the case via conference call the week of Nov. 28 and submit its answer shortly thereafter.

The university believes it does not need an in-person hearing – like the Aug. 12 meeting with the NCAA that weighed the fallout of the tattoos and cash for memorabilia scandal that led to the downfall of Jim Tressel – since it agrees on most of the charges.

On Nov. 3, the NCAA presented Ohio State with a supplemental notice of allegations related to the case in which the school admits DiGeronimo paid DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Melvin Fellows, Etienne Sabino and Marcus Hall a combined $1,605 for work not completed through his business interests in Cleveland.

In addition, DiGeronimo – who the university admits was a major booster of the program during the John Cooper years before his influence began to wane under Tressel – arranged for payments of $200 to Jordan Hall, Travis Howard, Corey Brown and one redacted student-athlete as payment for taking part in an annual charity event in Cleveland for his Cornerstone of Hope nonprofit organization.

The school was charged with failure to monitor given its longtime interactions with DiGeronimo, including the knowledge that previous players had been employed by him or attended his charity events. As a result, Ohio State "failed to take appropriate actions to determine if DiGeronimo continued to employ student-athletes or host them at the charity event despite concerns about his interaction with the football program, his previous involvement in a secondary violation related to football student-athletes' attendance at the charity event (2006) and his attempt to form close personal relationships with football student-athletes."

That charge is more serious than the previous ones levied against the university and its football program.

The violations involving DiGeronimo were first discovered after an NCAA interview with a redacted student-athlete – likely Terrelle Pryor, based on context – led to the body asking for his bank records and the bank records of other student-athletes.

As part of its self-imposed punishment for the violations, Ohio State will reduce the number of initial scholarships awarded in the sport of football by a total of five over the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 academic years.

In addition, DiGeronimo – who once donated more than $70,000 to the school – was disassociated from the university in September for a period of 10 years, while Pryor has also been disassociated for a period of five years. In addition, student-athletes have been prohibited from attending the Cornerstone of Hope event.

Those punishments are added to the forced resignation of Tressel in May and the suspension of the five players involved in the original tattoos-and-memorabilia case, as well as OSU's decision to vacate the 2010 season and its self-imposed probation assessed during the summer.

Whether that will be enough to sate the NCAA remains to be seen, but the process finally appears to be winding down.

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