In what will likely go down as a story of semantics, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith released a statement Thursday morning denying that any major NCAA violations are coming down the pike for his athletic department and specifically the football team.
Smith released the statement after being quoted by The Lantern, the school newspaper, in a story that was posted yesterday.
“We’ve got 12 (violations) pending,” Smith told the paper. “It may turn out to be secondary. It may not.”
The lack of context led some to speculate that more major NCAA violations – such as those that ended up toppling former head football coach Jim Tressel, suspending a number of football stars and shaking up the entire OSU athletic department – could be on the way.
However, Smith clarified that in his statement today.
“Contrary to reports attributed to me, Ohio State Athletics is not facing any major NCAA violations,” Smith said. “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.
“Again, to be clear, the Ohio State football program, its coaches and staff are not facing any violations.”
Last week, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported that the athletic department had turned in 46 NCAA violations since Tressel left the school last Memorial Day. The lion’s share were secondary in nature, ranging from Olympic sports coaches accidentally calling recruits at the wrong time to football assistant coach Mike Vrabel using smokeless tobacco on the sideline, and were not expected to raise any red flags at the NCAA.
One violation included new football coach Urban Meyer wishing a recruit luck despite an NCAA ban on contact, and another included Smith and OSU Alumni Association head Archie Griffin taping a video message to show to a football recruit while they were out of town for the Final Four.
One thing is for sure – any news of NCAA violations will continue to make news around Columbus.