Ohio State Facing ‘Failure to Monitor’ Charges Stemming from ‘Bobby D’ Violations
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State University is still awaiting an NCAA ruling from the Aug. 12 meeting with the Committee on Infractions, but they now face two additional allegations stemming from the violations surrounding disassociated booster Robert DiGeronimo.
One of those allegations is a “failure to monitor” DiGeronimo’s involvement with Ohio State student-athletes, which included overpayment to student-athlete employees and cash payments at the Cornerstone of Hope charitable event.
“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,” OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith said in a statement Thursday.
“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.”
In its release, Ohio State announced that the institution and the NCAA enforcement staff have completed their joint investigation into the remaining matters concerning potential violations not discussed in the Aug. 12 hearing.
Ohio State has self-imposed a reduction of five scholarships over a three-year period beginning next year. They have also requested a conference call with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Nov. 28—the Monday after their regular-season finale against Michigan—in order to speed up the process.
“We look forward to working with the staff and the Committee on Infractions to reach a timely resolution of the case,” Smith said.
“On a personal note, I deeply regret that I did not ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands.”
The documents released Thursday as part of Ohio State’s response to the NCAA’s latest letter of allegations show that Jim Tressel banned DiGeronimo and other “boosters” from Ohio State’s sideline and locker room after taking over the program in 2001.
Tressel even went as far as to kick DiGeronimo out of the locker room personally after he attempted to hide in a locker during one of Tressel's pregame speech in 2001 or 2002. Tressel also sent DiGeronimo a letter in 2005 forbidding him from taking any student-athletes to eat or bringing food to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center or Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State did, however, approve of players attending DiGerinimo’s charity gala as recently as 2010. They also signed off on his employment of OSU student-athletes at Independence Excavating, Inc. dating back to at least 2004.
DiGeronimo—who the university admits was a major booster of the program during the John Cooper years—paid DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Melvin Fellows, Etienne Sabino and Marcus Hall a combined $1,605 for work not completed through his Cleveland-based construction company.
Ohio State did not approve their work for DiGeronimo from 2009-11, nor the charity event attended in Feb., 2011 that led to the suspensions of Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and defensive back Corey Brown.
The NCAA discovered these violations while interviewing a former student-athlete, believed to be Terrelle Pryor. While examining his bank records, they discovered checks written from Independence Excavating, Inc. This led them to DiGeronimo and the overpayment of players, which eventually led to further suspensions for Posey (5 additional games) and Herron (1 additional game), as well as the suspensions of Hall (1 game) and Fellows (1 game).
The reduction in scholarships, which totals five over the course of three years, is a self-imposed punishment for the violations pertaining strictly to DiGeronimo. It is not the final ruling from the NCAA. If they do not grant the conference call with Ohio State on Nov. 28, there is a previously scheduled meeting Dec. 10 in Florida.
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