After appearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to answer allegations concerning players receiving impermissible benefits and Jim Tressel‘s cover-up, Ohio State uncovered further violations involving a booster paying players cash at a charity event as well as overpaying them for a job he provided.
The school announced Thursday that their joint investigation with the NCAA into the latest violations is complete and they have issued their response to a supplemental Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. That supplemental notice contains two allegations not covered in the original NOA:
The first was related to the “extra benefits” violations discovered through a joint investigation with the NCAA and publicly announced by the university Sept. 1 and Oct. 3 involving Robert DiGeronimo, who at the time was a representative of the institution’s athletics interests (also known as a “booster”). In February 2011, he arranged for cash payments of $200 each to four current or former student-athletes at an annual charity event for a nonprofit organization of which DiGeronimo was a board member. Additionally, the student-athletes attended the event without written approval from the athletics director or his designee. Further, DiGeronimo arranged for five student-athletes to be overcompensated by a total of $1,605 while they were employed by businesses owned and operated by the DiGeronimo family.
The second allegation asserts that the institution took insufficient action to monitor DiGeronimo, resulting in a “failure to monitor” allegation, primarily due to DiGeronimo’s overpayment to student-athlete employees and cash payments at the Cornerstone of Hope charitable event. This allegation only concerns a booster and does not relate to any of the issues discussed at the Aug. 12 Committee on Infractions hearing.
The “failure to monitor” charge is one step below the dreaded “lack of institutional control”, but serious in its own right and could lead to stiff sanctions for the football program. One month ago, OSU president E. Gordon Gee remarked that the situation at the school does not represent “a systematic failure of compliance” and that they are “the poster child for compliance.”
Athletic director Gene Smith expressed deep regret that he didn’t “ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands.”
“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,” Smith said in a statement. “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.
“We look forward to working with the staff and the Committee on Infractions to reach a timely resolution of the case. On a personal note, I deeply regret that I did not ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands.”
As a result of these latest allegations, the Buckeyes have self-imposed a reduction in scholarships by a total of five over the next three years, commencing in 2012. The NCAA can either agree with those sanctions or add to them.
OSU said in its release it “is hopeful that the Committee on Infractions will review these materials and render its final decision in the near future.” The original timeline for a response from the NCAA was anywhere from 8-12 weeks from the mid-August hearing. Obviously, the latest investigation pushed back that time frame.