The NCAA's rule book is ridiculous and excessive. This is known. And that makes Ohio State's self-reported violations of these ridiculous and excessive rules pretty hilarious to read.
My good pal and colleague Colin Hass-Hill used multiple records requests to obtain the school's 22 self-reported NCAA violations between May 2017 and 2019.
Some are more ridiculous than the others, so I did what I do best – rank them subjectively. Here's your top five (plus an honorable mention, of course).
Honorable mention: Kevin Wilson fails at Twitter
On July 18, 2017, Assistant Football Coach Kevin Wilson impermissibly quoted a tweet from a 2018 prospective student-athlete, who has not signed a National Letter of Intent, Big Ten Tender, or paid an admissions deposit to attend the institution. Coach Wilson meant to tweet "It's a great day to be a Buckeye" but, instead of creating a new tweet, he inadvertently quoted the prospects tweet, which resulted in impermissible publicity before commitment. When reviewing Coach Wilson's tweets, a football intern noticed that Coach Wilson had impermissibly quoted the prospect's tweet. The intern notified Coach Wilson, who immediately removed the tweet and reported the violation to the Compliance Office.
First off, I'm extremely well-versed in Kevin Wilson's Twitter account and I feel he is misquoted here. There is just no way he said "great" instead of "GR8."
Regardless, what's essentially happening here is that Kevin Wilson's technology struggles led to a recruiting violation, which is hilarious. It's even more hilarious that it took an intern finding it while "reviewing Coach Wilson's tweets" (I'm praying that's part of his daily duties) before it was deleted.
As a result of this vile act, Ohio State was barred from contacting this prospect (probably Jeremy Ruckert) for two weeks.
5. Killing the entrepreneurial spirit
On May 30, 2017, two football student-athletes created a strength and training company and developed a website to advertise their new business. On the website, the two student-athletes included their names and images but did not mention their affiliation with the institution's football program. They believed that it was permissible to include their names and images on their website as long as they did not mention that they were student-athletes. Since the creation of the company, one student-athlete made $60 in profits and the other student-athlete had made no money.
This whole situation isn't exactly surprising, but it is just peak NCAA.
The athletes did nothing that any other regular student wouldn't be able to do, didn't use their status as athletes to promote the company and made a total of $60 between the two of them. And the hilarious thing is, the NCAA would almost surely react the exact same way if they set up a damn lemonade stand.
The punishment wasn't severe – the profiting student-athlete paid $60 to a charity of his choice and the school provided education to all student athletes about self-employment and promotional activities.
4. Grad assistant gets in trouble for watching TV
The institution's football team arrived in Texas on December 23, 2017, to play in a postseason bowl game. That evening a graduate student manager from the football team was watching the Texas State High School Football Championships from the hospitality room at the team hotel. During the game, the graduate student manager tweeted a compliment to the bowl committee regarding the hospitality room and included information about the high school game he was watching which went beyond confirmation of recruitment. Athletic compliance saw the tweet on December 24, 2017, and determined that a violation had occurred. On December 27, 2017, upon his arrival at the team hotel, Athletic Compliances instructed the graduate student manager that the tweet was determined to be a violation and the tweet was removed.
This grad assistant essentially committed an NCAA violation by watching television in his hotel on a Saturday night and tweeting about it.
He wasn't directly contacting a recruit and didn't mention a recruit by name. He just tweeted about the game he was watching and was even complimentary towards the bowl committee for the hospitality.
But apparently this was against the rules.
As a result, Ohio State was not allowed to contact the prospect in question (presumably Garrett Wilson) for a two-week period in February.
3. Hoops prospect hangs out with girlfriend's father
On September 9, 2017, a men's basketball prospective student-athlete received access to a suite during a home football game for approximately five minutes. The prospective student-athlete was visiting campus on an unofficial visit and had complimentary admissions to the game and a credential that permitted him to be on the sidelines during pregame. During the game, he was invited up to the suite by his girlfriend's father and was mistakenly permitted access to the suite level. Due to his relationship with his girlfriend's father, he has been in the suite on other occasions, unrelated to an athletics visit to campus. Due to this, both parties were unaware that it was impermissible for him to receive suite access while visiting campus on an unofficial visit for men's basketball.
Most of the time, the NCAA is at least somewhat understanding of pre-existing relationships for prospects and players, but apparently not in this case.
All this prospect did was go visit his girlfriend's father – and folks, when your girlfriend's father requests you do something, you do it – in a suite where he had been multiple times before for about five minutes and was in no way benefitting from his status as a student athlete, and Ohio State had no part in arranging the meet up.
Yet, it's a violation.
In response, Ohio State offered education to the men's basketball staff about the situation and thought no further action was necessary, but the NCAA thought otherwise and ruled the kid ineligible until "the value of the impermissible benefit is paid."
So, he now has to pay for a suite level ticket out of his own pocket.
To be fair, it's hard not to side with the NCAA here. If you don't watch out, players will start planting fake girlfriends' parents all over the stadium to avoid having to watch the game with a complimentary field pass.
2. TIL: Middle schoolers are "prospects" now
In the summer of 2017, the Athletic Department's Camps Office provided free admission to a prospect aged individual and his brother to attend a men's basketball camp. Prior to the camp, a former men's basketball student-athlete reached out to the men's basketball staff to inquire about participant discounts based on financial need. The men's basketball staff directed the inquiry to the Camps Office, who handle all camp logistical questions. The camps Office believed that since both prospects were under 9th grade, they were not yet considered prospects under NCAA rules and, therefore, could be provided free camps admission. The Camps Office was not aware that individuals in the 7th grade and higher are considered prospects in men's basketball for purposes of NCAA rules and that discounts have to be published and made available for all who qualify.
There are a couple of levels of absurd to this.
The obvious is that two kids that aren't even in high school yet are considered prospects "for the purposes of NCAA rules," so it's ridiculous that this is even a violation in the first place. But the real problem I have comes in the punishment – both kids were ruled ineligible by the NCAA until the full cost of the camp is paid ($385).
The kids and their family clearly could not afford to pay for this camp – hence the request for discounts based on financial need – and only did so because they were given free admission. Had they known they were going to have to fork over $385 per child to attend the camp, they probably never would have done it. Yet, because of a mistake by someone else, they now owe over $700 if those kids ever want to play NCAA sports.
Great on the NCAA for policing the sport and keeping everything fair!
1. An unhappy father's day
On June 20, 2017, both Head Football Coach Urban Meyer and Assistant Head Football Coach Tony Alford received over 80 text messages from prospects and student-athletes wishing them both Happy Father's Day. While responding to text messages, both coaches accidentally responded to the text message of a 2019 prospect, who is pre-contactable. Neither text message sent by the coaches were recruiting in nature. Upon realizing that it was not yet permissible to send electronic correspondence to the prospective student-athlete, the coaches each immediately reported their violation to the Compliance Office.
This one is especially hilarious list if you imagine the situation.
Both coaches are getting absolutely bombarded with texts from #teens while they're presumably trying to enjoy Father's Day with their families, and are probably hitting them back with a quick "Thanks" as they come.
A text from a 2019 prospect – whom they are not allowed to contact yet – comes in and they both instinctively reply "Thanks" before stuffing their phone back in their pocket for about the 63rd time and returning to dinner with their families on Father's Day, not even realizing their error until at least the next day.
Ohio State self-imposed a two-week ban on contacting the prospect generally or electronically and now requires all coaches to update the contact information to indicate a prospect is pre-contactable so the situation doesn't happen again.
The best part is, the NCAA didn't see this as severe enough! They clapped back with sanctions that the football staff couldn't send recruiting material or correspondence to the player for four weeks, instead of the self-imposed two.
There you have it. Just don't do those things and you're in the clear!