C.J. Saunders' Ohio State career is over.
The former Ohio State wide receiver's request for a sixth year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA, Ryan Day said during a teleconference on Tuesday.
Saunders was hoping to receive one more year of eligibility after missing all of last season due to a knee injury, but the NCAA ultimately determined he did not meet the criteria for a medical hardship waiver.
Day said the plan is for Saunders to join Ohio State's coaching staff in some capacity, though his specific role has not yet been determined.
“He's got coaching in his blood, and he wants to be a part of it this season,” Day said. “I just want to make sure publicly we all thank C.J. for everything he's done for our program. He's meant a lot to us, and we're certainly disappointed he can't play this season, but we're excited he is still going to be a part of our program.”
A former walk-on who earned a scholarship in 2018, Saunders has 27 catches for 294 yards and a touchdown in his Ohio State career. He was named as a captain for the 2019 season, and was the leading candidate to be the Buckeyes' No. 2 slot receiver behind K.J. Hill before his injury.
With Hill gone, Saunders was expected to contend for playing time at slot receiver again this year if he received the extra year of eligibility. Now, though, the Buckeyes will move forward without him.
Ohio State is now at 85 scholarships for the 2020 season.