Chris Holtmann wasn’t quite sure how to break the news to Scoonie Penn.
He’d no longer be allowed to practice or workout with the Ohio State basketball team if he were to accept the position of director of player development for the program.
“I thought I was going to lose him when I told him that,” Holtmann joked on Tuesday.
He didn’t, though, as Penn ultimately accepted Holtmann’s offer to join the program. Getting involved in a role like this was something Penn long considered, but he felt the timing was right now and it felt like a perfect fit to join Ohio State — a place he cares so much for.
“I hope to be just a tremendous asset to the guys on the team and the university because I do love this,” Penn said. “I love basketball and I love this university so it falls right in line.”
What, exactly, does Penn’s role as director of player development entail, though? Well, that’s a bit complicated.
Penn detailed his job description as “a lot of different things.” He’ll serve as a mentor to Ohio State’s current players. He’ll be a liaison of sorts with former players. He’ll assist during on-campus recruiting visits. He’ll help with some summer camps. The list is seemingly endless.
A list that might be just as long, though, is what Penn isn’t allowed to do. There is a lot of gray area in support staff roles like Penn’s, and he’s still learning the ins and outs, but there are certain things he’s no longer allowed to do that he was when he was simply an alum and a supporter of the program.
The first is practice. Penn can no longer play against Ohio State’s current players in any fashion.
“If ever there was a year, right? If there was ever a year that would be valuable, this would be the year. But no, he’s not allowed to do that,” Holtmann joked. “There’s limitations as to who can be involved and he can’t even really get in between the lines.”
Additionally, Penn can’t hit the road and recruit for Ohio State as his duties are held to on-campus only. However, there’s a caveat here. Penn’s son Dominiq is a top prospect in the 2020 class and Scoonie is still allowed to attend events in which Dominiq is playing. He just can’t recruit for the Buckeyes while he’s there.
“That was definitely one of the questions: How does that work?” Penn said. “When the time comes, if I’m able to and there’s not a game or something then I’ll be there front and center. If not, he definitely understands.”
Penn was heavily involved in the community and hopes to continue to do so with his new role. For example, Penn still intends to hold his annual cornhole event to benefit cancer research. However, things like his basketball skills academy he’ll have to give up due to potential NCAA rules.
“There’s so much gray area with the NCAA but to eliminate all that I’m just not going to do [the camp],” Penn said. “A kid now, when he turns 12 years old, he’s at a prospect age now. To me, that’s absolutely stupid but it’s the NCAA rules. But one thing that’s not going to change, and I spoke with Coach about it, as much as I can get out in the community and help I will especially with kids. Whatever I’m allowed to do.”
There is still plenty of learning to do and Penn said he’s met with Ohio State’s compliance department a handful of times already. If he has a question, all he has to do is ask and he’ll be informed whether he can or can’t do something.
Giving up the practice was the hardest part, but Penn said perhaps that’s for the better.
“I’m getting old anyway and I can’t be out here embarrassing these young guys,” Penn joked. “On the flip side, I do get to help them out in other ways and be around them a lot more and try to mentor them and watch them grow.”