High hopes for the return of Noah Spence have been dashed as the Big Ten ruled Ohio State's junior defensive end permanently ineligible today following an appeal for reinstatement.
Here's athletic director Gene Smith's statement on the ruling:
Ohio State junior student-athlete Noah Spence has been declared permanently ineligible from all intercollegiate athletics competition by the Big Ten Conference. The Ohio State University Department of Athletics had assisted Noah and his family leading up to an appeals process that took place today.
While we are disappointed in the outcome, we are pleased that Noah has come a long way and we are very proud of the progress he has made with regard to his health. The Department of Athletics will continue to assist Noah through his pursuits and provide the academic resources necessary to help him complete his degree program.
Spence, who has missed all of this season because of drug-related suspensions, hasn't played a down for the Buckeyes in almost a year. He tweeted this Tuesday evening:
Not what I wanted but now it's time to get ready for the next level, I've learnt so much in the last couple months that it's all worth it..— Noah Spence (@nspence94) November 26, 2014
Spence, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and likely future high-round NFL Draft pick, was initially suspended for three games after testing positive for ecstasy prior to the Big Ten Championship game last December.
After missing games against Navy and Virginia Tech, Spence, due to make an anticipated return, was suspended indefinitely for another failed drug test — his second in less than a year.
Spence’s parents told the Columbus Dispatch their son has a “medical illness.”
“We love him dearly, and our focus is to get him the best medical attention we can,” they wrote to the newspaper in an email. “We are hopeful that Noah can get healthy and, at some point, resume his career with the Buckeyes.”
Head coach Urban Meyer said the team was helping Spence get help and defended his decision not to dismiss him.
“I treat these guys like they're my kid, and I'm not a big fan of dismissal. I just don't do that very often. It's gotta be a severe (violation), where you're hurting someone else,” he said in September.
“But to throw him to the street, I didn't feel like that was appropriate just yet. And we're going to do the best we can to help a guy that was an academic All‑Big Ten, good student, great family, that has a problem. It's our job to help him, and I don't think you will ever see our staff ever do that, say ‘You're out,’ in that kind of situation. Unfortunately sometimes it's not our decision.”