Ohio State Reports Four Minor NCAA Recruiting Violations For Football

By Chase Brown on February 27, 2024 at 5:28 pm
Ohio State Helmet

The Ohio State athletic department has self-reported four minor NCAA violations within the football program since August, according to a document The Columbus Dispatch obtained through a public records request.

Ohio State’s infractions all involved recruiting. Those infractions occurred over five months and ranged from contacting a player before he entered the transfer portal to a booster making contact with a recruit before a football game.

All infractions were deemed Level III, which the NCAA considers “isolated or limited in nature.” These infractions are the least severe level under the NCAA’s current structure and result in little to no penalties. According to The Dispatch, only one of the violations led to further action from the association after Ohio State took measures in the immediate aftermath.

Here is a breakdown of Ohio State’s violations:

Impermissible Contact With a Transfer

An Ohio State assistant coach called a player before he entered the transfer portal. The program submitted the violation to the Big Ten and the NCAA on Aug. 18, 2023.

According to the NCAA report, the player had posted to X about his intentions to enter the portal, but coaches can only contact a prospect once the NCAA has processed that move.

“Once he learned that the (student-athlete) was not contactable, he ceased communications until the SA entered the NCAA Transfer portal,” the report read.

The violation led the Buckeyes to suspend recruiting activities for a week and reduce its in-person days and official visits by four and three. The assistant also met with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, and the school provided the rest of the staff with a letter of education on tampering and the new transfer windows. The NCAA did not identify the assistant or the player in its report.

Provided Photo Edit to a Recruit

On July 28, 2023, Ohio State hosted a recruiting event called “SummerFest,” which welcomed dozens of high school recruits to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Among those prospects was Chris Henry Jr., a wide receiver in the 2026 class. Toward the end of the event, Brian Hartline, Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, gave Henry’s legal guardian an edit of a photo that was taken by the Buckeyes’ creative staff as part of a photo shoot.

The NCAA’s report stated that Hartline and the guardian, identified as former NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, had a pre-existing relationship from Hartline’s time as a professional football player. Still, those materials are prohibited for distribution by a member of Ohio State’s coaching staff and their families until they are juniors in high school. Henry was a sophomore at the time of the violation.

Hartline, who reported the violation to Ohio State’s compliance office the next day, was instructed not to send recruiting materials to prospects for a week. Additionally, the rest of the Buckeyes’ staff was prohibited from supplying materials to Henry for two weeks.

Booster Contact With Recruit Before Football Game

On the sideline before an Ohio State game in September, two unnamed boosters took a picture with a recruit on the sidelines at Ohio Stadium and shared it to social media. The post was deleted after an athletic department staffer noticed it during the first quarter of the contest.

The exchange between the boosters and recruit, whose names the NCAA redacted from the report, is prohibited. According to the NCAA rulebook, contact between schools and recruits can “be made only by authorized institutional staff members.”

As a result of the violation, Ohio State provided rules education to the boosters. The school also revoked pregame sideline credentials for one of the boosters for the Buckeyes’ next two home games. Once Ohio State self-reported the violation on Sept. 19, the NCAA added another penalty by eliminating two in-person recruiting days for the program.

Social Media Violation

Ohio State’s final violation occurred in January when a staff member commented on a social media post in response to a verbal commitment from a transfer.

“Great News!!” the staff member wrote, reposting the announcement.

The post violated NCAA rule, a bylaw that prohibits schools from commenting publicly about a recruit until they sign an aid agreement.

While the report does not name the transfer, it noted the date of his commitment was Jan. 19 and that he had entered the transfer portal two days prior — a timeline that aligns with Ohio State’s recruitment of Caleb Downs, a former Alabama safety. No other transfer had committed to the Buckeyes on that date.

The Ohio State staffer later deleted the post at the request of the school’s compliance office. The athletic department provided the staff with education related to social media and recruiting. The NCAA did not hand down further punishment.

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