Alex Anzalone Decommits; "Something's just not right at Ohio State" Says Father
By Tony Gerdeman
Less than two weeks after pledging a verbal commitment to play football at Ohio State, four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone decommitted Friday afternoon citing personal reasons.
Anzalone's decommitment came on the heels of the recent news that the Ohio State compliance department had made their student athletes aware of efforts by Charles Eric Waugh, a registered sex offender, to contact dozens of current and former athletes, as well as coaches, via Twitter.
Waugh, who pleaded guilty to five counts of child pornography in 2008—all of which involved images of boys younger than 16, made it a near ritual to send motivational quotes to student athletes on an almost daily basis.
Waugh also sought out players and recruits in public, even posing for pictures with them when he could. Not coincidentally, Alex Anzalone is in one of these pictures, and his family deemed it impossible to remain committed to Ohio State once they found out.
"I'm outraged," said Dr. Sal Anzalone, who is Alex's father, to the Reading Eagle.
"There's a disconnect between what Alex thought was was there (at Ohio State) and what is actually there.
"Something's just not right at Ohio State. It's not for him."
While Dr. Anzalone had no issues detailing his feelings about the situation, his son took a more measured approach.
"I had to make a decision that's best for me, and for my family," he told the Reading Eagle. "There's a reason behind it. I don't want to get into it; I don't want to hurt anyone."
According to the Anzalones, this wasn't a decision based just on the Waugh revelations. It was something that had been building since the commitment.
"We've been talking about it for a week or so with my family," the younger Anzalone said. "I need to re-evaluate things right now, slow everything down."
Per Dr. Anzalone, Alex had told him that "something wasn't right" following the visit that preceded his commitment. This was also the visit where Waugh was photographed with Anzalone and other recruits.
"You don't want your son to go to a place where there's a potential issue (like this)," Dr. Anzalone told the Reading Eagle. "You expect the (football) staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous.
"I was concerned with what recruits do, and with them being allowed to visit these kind of places where it puts kids at risk. That's the issue. You entrust people (at the school) to do the right thing."
For their part, when Ohio State found out about Waugh, they didn't hesitate to act. Here is the statement that the Department of Athletics released Friday night regarding the matter:
"The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures – taken in public places – with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person. The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes."
Still, in at least one family's eyes, the damage had already been done. Anzalone has now reopened his recruitment and will be moving on from Ohio State. He is considering Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida and Penn State, among others.
Anzalone is the second linebacker to decommit from Ohio State in less than a week, as Lewis Neal rescinded his commitment on Monday, for likely much different reasons.
Here is the content of Ohio State's email to its student athletes on Thursday:
The University has become aware that an individual who is listed on Kentucky's sex offender registry has recently been seen in pictures with our student-athletes. [A news article reported that he pleaded guilty to five counts of "possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor" and noted that the images were all of boys younger than 16.]. The individual's name is Charles Eric Waugh. We have reason to believe that he has a Twitter account under the name: BdubsTriviaGuru. This account has sent tweets to student-athletes and coaches. We strongly recommend that you take the steps (see links below) to block his access to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. In addition, we've enclosed a photograph and a link to a news article regarding this individual.
As a reminder, the individuals who you associate with on social networking sites (i.e., Twitter, Facebook) can have negative implications on your reputation and the University. Please remember to choose your "social media friends" carefully!
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