Smith Clarifies Comments to The Lantern
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith had to do some swift damage control Thursday morning.
He is used to that by now. At least after the last year.
Just hours after The Lantern—Ohio State’s student newspaper—published an article with comments from Smith about the school’s pending violations, the director of athletics felt compelled to release the following statement.
“Contrary to reports attributed to me, Ohio State Athletics is not facing any major NCAA violations,” Smith said Thursday, shortly after The Lantern’s report went live on their website.
“There are several secondary violations being processed by our compliance office. These are similar to those released last week. Again, these are secondary in nature and consistent with our culture of self-reporting even the most minor and inadvertent violations.”
It was less than a week ago that Ohio State released documents revealing the school had self-reported 46 “secondary violations” to the NCAA in the past year. Not all of them concerned the OSU football team, but one specific violation did involve Smith, who along with two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, recorded a personal recruiting video for prospective football student-athlete Ezekiel Elliott.
Smith and Griffin were both in New Orleans following Thad Matta and the OSU basketball team, but wanted to welcome Elliott to campus on his unofficial visit back in May. By mentioning a recruit by name in their video, Smith and Griffin committed a secondary NCAA violation.
When Smith sat down with The Lantern, he revealed that Ohio State currently has as many as 12 more violations that are being processed, either by the University or by the NCAA.
“We’ve got 12 pending,” Smith told The Lantern.
“It may turn out to be secondary. It may not.”
The vague nature of Smith’s comments, coupled with similarly unclear statements Ohio State’s AD has made in the past, led the students who wrote the story for The Lantern to assume Smith may be alluding to more serious violations on the horizon.
Smith adamantly denied that his comments were intended to suggest some of the violations could be more serious or significant than the secondary violations the school reported last week.
“Again, to be clear,” Smith said, “the Ohio State football program, its coaches and staff are not facing any violations.”
Ohio State released a statement later this afternoon which says that that holds true across the board. According to the release, no Ohio State athletics program is facing any major NCAA issues.
There are 12 secondary NCAA issues being processed by the athletics compliance office. These are similar to those released last week. All are secondary in nature and consistent with the department’s culture of self-reporting all issues.
List of 12 Additional Secondary Violations being Self-Reported:
Football – The compliance office approved the use of mini basketballs during a football winter conditioning workout.
Football – A former assistant football coach had an inadvertent contact or “bump” with a prospective student-athlete.
Football – The program understood the aunt of a prospective student-athlete was his legal guardian and provided food and lodging expenses to her for the official visit.
Football – An assistant coach inadvertently posted on the Facebook wall of a 2013 prospective student-athlete, believing at the time he was using the email inbox function of Facebook.
Baseball – A prospective student-athlete in grade 12 registered and showed up for an Ohio State camp for participants in grades 9-11 even though he was told he was not eligible to compete at the camp. A t-shirt was given to the individual to defuse the situation when he got upset that he couldn’t compete.
Baseball – A prospective student-athlete received a complimentary admission to a home baseball game during a dead period.
Baseball – Two baseball prospective student-athletes arrived on campus for official visits before being placed on the request list.
Men’s Gymnastics – The practice activities of a gymnastics alum were publicized.
Institutional – Athletics financial aid agreements were issued to three prospective student-athletes without being signed by the financial aid director.
Field Hockey – A former assistant coach sent an email to a prospective student-athlete believing that she was a 2013 high school graduate.
Men’s Tennis – A high school football coach and friend of the tennis program’s head coach stopped by the tennis training facility unannounced with an assistant coach and four prospective student-athletes during a dead period.
Women’s Hockey – A former assistant coach inadvertently sent an email to a 2014 prospective student-athlete when the prospect was mistakenly entered into the recruiting data base by the previous coaching staff as a 2013 graduate.
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