The only reason given by Ohio State when it ruled three players — junior running back Jordan Hall, sophomore defensive back Corey Brown, and junior defensive back Travis Howard – ineligible for the opener was that they had been found to have received less than $300 each in impermissible benefits at a charity event earlier this year.
Shortly thereafter speculation began as to the reasons behind the suspensions, up to and including the players merely being guilty of accepting gift bags that were being passed out to everyone at the charity event. Unless those gift bags were also rumored to have contained pictures of dead presidents that can be folded and put into a wallet, that simply wasn’t the case.
Instead, the Columbus Dispatch, citing documents they obtained pertaining to the investigation, is reporting that Hall, Brown and Howard each received $200 in cash at the charity event in Cleveland.
(Writer’s note: what can I say; we’re generous in this area of the state.)
In the self-report obtained by the Dispatch, two of the players stated that they thought they were being paid for working at the event. The third stated that he received the money from a teammate — there were two other current Buckeyes at the event, but it was found they did not receive any impermissible benefits — but wasn’t sure why.
It was also unclear exactly which individual or individuals were responsible for giving the three players a total of $600.
One player told investigators he received the cash from a former OSU player while another indicated he received payment from a person who is “a representative of athletics interests.” Both names were redacted by Ohio State attorneys.
The two players who did not receive money observed someone carrying several envelopes during the event. However, the identity of that individual was also redacted by Ohio State attorneys.
According to the self-report, it was unclear whether the person who gave the money did so in his role as a representative of the charity or acting alone. The source of the money is also unclear.
(Writer’s note: why is it that the players’ names are released in a very public manner and allowed to become the object of scorn and/or ridicule in these types of situations, yet at the same time the facilitators of these impermissible benefits have their names redacted?)
All three players were reinstated by the NCAA earlier this week and will be available to play this weekend against Toledo. Hall and Howard had been listed as starters on the Buckeyes’ depth chart before their suspensions, but head coach Luke Fickell said each player would have to earn back their starting jobs.