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Friday, May 18, 2012
Ohio State self-reported violations

By Adam Rittenberg
ESPN.com

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith on Friday acknowledged having committed secondary NCAA violations in recent months.

The ancillary errors by Meyer and Smith are part of 46 secondary violations in 21 sports at Ohio State reported since last May 30, according to a report in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, which obtained the list of violations through an open records request.

Meyer is reported to have said "good luck" to football recruit Noah Spence at a Dec. 16 high school game, violating NCAA rules prohibiting direct contact with recruits during competition.

"It's nothing that troubles me," Smith told The Associated Press on Friday. "It's normal operating business. It's nothing that troubles me. I've seen all the cases; we know all the cases. You look at them, and they're inadvertent mistakes."

Spence, from Harrisburg, Pa., is the nation's No. 4 recruit and No. 2-rated defensive end in the ESPN 150. He committed to Ohio State during an official campus visit days after the game and signed with the Buckeyes in February.

Ohio State learned of the contact from a newspaper photo that showed Meyer apparently talking to Spence. Meyer informed Ohio State of the contact two days after the game.

"I went to say 'hello' and 'good luck' to his coach and as I was walking off the field Noah said 'hello,' and I said, 'good luck,' before the game," Meyer wrote in a text message to The Plain Dealer. "Nothing more. Nothing to hide. All good."

Smith and alumni association CEO Archie Griffin, a former star running back for the Buckeyes, recorded a personalized video for football recruit Ezekiel Elliott for his official visit to Ohio State on March 31. Recruiting videos are prohibited by the NCAA. Elliott verbally committed to Ohio State as part of the 2013 recruiting class.

Other secondary violations included text messages sent by assistant Stan Drayton and former assistant Dick Tressel to a recruit and the parents of a recruit, respectively. Also included is assistant football coach Mike Vrabel using smokeless tobacco on the sideline, the women's hockey program spending $4 too much for five framed jerseys, and men's basketball video coordinator Greg Paulus exceeding his job description by actually coaching during a game.

Ohio State's only major violations in football since May 30, 2011, involved players being overpaid for work by former booster Bobby DiGeronimo. Those violations, along with others committed by players and former coach Jim Tressel during the tattoo/merchandise scandal, led to Ohio State losing scholarships and receiving a one-year postseason ban from the NCAA for the 2012 season.

Ohio State also reported that the women's lacrosse team didn't take a day off one week, that a men's volleyball assistant spoke to a man who he later found out was the father of a prospective recruit and that a member of the women's rifle team won $75 in a competition as a member of the USA Shooting Team. All are NCAA violations.

The NCAA required education sessions or repayment of nominal sums of money to resolve most of the violations.

Ohio State spokesman Dan Wallenberg issued a statement in which he said the Buckeyes athletic department always leads the Big Ten in self-reports because it has the most varsity sports (36) and student-athletes (about 1,000) in the conference. He said that in the wake of the NCAA sanctions handed to the football team in December -- NCAA probation, a bowl ban after the 2012 season and vacating the 2010 season, among other penalties -- Ohio State has "embraced the culture of identifying even the smallest violation."

That would include a December 2010 incident when five Buckeyes football players took five recruits to a movie. The cab ride to the movie put each recruit between $1 and $5 over the $60 in spending money allowed for entertainment by the NCAA. The Buckeyes players paid the excess out of their own pockets but it was still a minor violation for the recruits to exceed the $60 limit.

Smith said 46 secondary violations involving 21 sports was not excessive.

"That's a typical year. We've had higher and we've had lower in a year," he said. "But that's what we look for. We want an environment where our staff and coaches understand that you're going to make inadvertent violations but you need to report them. If we were operating at around [a total of] 10 or 15 or 20, I'd have concerns because I know our rules are so deep that you're going to make mistakes. We want people to report them, and they do."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.