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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 10/04/2011 8:35 AM
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Football
Gene Smith Points Finger at Individuals, Not Institution
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In Gene Smith’s world, there are a lot of people responsible for what has happened at Ohio State over the last year.

Just don’t blame Ohio State, or Gene Smith for that matter.

With the Buckeyes already facing NCAA sanctions from their Aug. 12 meeting with the Committee on Infractions, Smith revealed Monday that the NCAA’s investigation had exposed yet another violation.

Right when it looked like Luke Fickell might have his team back at full strength for the trip to Nebraska this coming Saturday, the Buckeyes learned they would be without three key players for at least another game.

Seniors DeVier Posey and Boom Herron, along with redshirt sophomore Marcus Hall, will miss the trip to Lincoln after it was discovered they were paid for hours not worked by a Cleveland-area booster.

“These individual decisions were made to go off the reservation,” Smith said Monday during his press conference to announce the suspensions.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a systems problem.”

We have heard that line before.

Since Jim Tressel is no longer around to kick any more, Smith has no one else to pin the blame on other than these “rogue” players going “off the reservation” to commit these violations.

Smith did somehow manage to remind people of Tressel’s fault in the current state of affairs in Columbus.

“These failures are individual failures, failures of individual athletes, obviously a previous coach,” Smith said.

“It's not a systemic failure of compliance.”

He also reminded everyone that these were the actions of only a few individuals, not 30.

It might not be 30 players yet, but it could be by the end of the year. It certainly seems to be getting closer by the day. What once was five players became five players and a head coach. Then it became nine players and now 12, plus two repeat offenders in Posey and Herron.

That doesn’t include the number of former players who have been implicated in any of this.

The booster at the center of the latest scandal—the now-disassociated Robert “Bobby” DiGeronimo—was the same person implicated in the $200 envelopes received by Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown at the Cornerstone of Hope charity gala back in February.

It turns out, DiGeronimo has also been employing Ohio State football players for years, apparently right under the noses of Smith and OSU’s compliance department, headed by Doug Archie.

“I am confident in our compliance program,” Smith said, already knowing that his words will fall on many deaf ears.

“We do not have a systemic problem. Most people don't understand that.”

They don’t understand it because they have watched the events of the last year unfold right before their eyes. Every time it looks like Ohio State is going to come out of the woods with only a few prickers, something else comes out and drags them back in.

Yet somehow, Smith still believes the University will not be hit with more severe charges than the ones that were on the table during their Aug. 12 meeting with the infractions committee.

“We’re optimistic as we move forward in our broader case there are no additional allegations,” he said.

“Optimistic a failure to monitor or lack of institutional control is not an allegation that will emerge.”

Smith anticipates that the committee may take a little longer with their decision based on the new allegations that emerged, but he is still expecting a final ruling sometime before the end of the season.

“I anticipate the committee will take longer and hopefully get us an answer sometime this fall,” he said.

But what about Smith? When will he face the music? When will he be held accountable for the transgressions that, so far, everyone else has had to atone for.

“I am held accountable,” he said.

“That's why I'm sitting here today.”

Actually, Smith was sitting there Monday because he happens to still be employed as the Athletic Director at Ohio State. It was his job to be there Monday, just like it was his job, and the job of the university to find out these kids were driving to Cleveland every summer to work for a booster.

“We have to constantly work with our student-athletes to educate them about accountability,” Smith said.

“And then educate those people around them to ensure that our student-athletes aren't taken advantage of by people around them.”

But who’s going to educate the University about accountability? Buckeye fans are hoping it won’t be the NCAA.

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