Booster Sold Right To Dine With Current Buckeyes

On Sept. 15, 2011, 30-year Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo confirmed to Bill Lubinger of the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER that he facilitated cash payments to three current Ohio State players - from envelopes distributed at a Cleveland-area charity event - on Feb. 19, 2011.

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Right To Dine With Beanie Wells Buckeyes At 2008 Charity Event

(Private access to then-current Buckeyes available in 2008 - at the right price)

As part of his piece on DiGeronimo, Lubinger reported:

Cornerstone for Hope has held a charity dinner and auction for eight years, raising from $150,000 the first year to $300,000 this year. It draws between 650 and 750 guests. One of the attractions is celebrity guests at each table, including Ohio State athletes.

And years back, when DiGeronimo’s close friend John Cooper was still head coach of the football team, the auction would include an offer to play “Buckeye for a Day” — a chance to attend football practice and meet the players. It brought in winning bids of $2,500 to $3,000.

In 2011, Cornerstone of Hope’s charity auction included autographed - and framed - Ohio State memorabilia items from then-current Buckeye football star Terrelle Pryor and current Ohio State basketball player Jared Sullinger:

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Signed Memorabilia From Terrelle Pryor and Jared Sullinger at 2011 Event

(Part of live auction guide from rogue OSU booster’s charity event)

As he reportedly did during the Cooper era at Ohio State, DiGeronimo also sold a Buckeye fan experience at his 2008 event. But this time, thanks to a sign seen in a photo of the Cornerstone of Hope gala in progress that year, we now know DiGeronimo wasn’t merely hawking access to practice.

Terrelle Pryor at Charity Event in Cleveland where 3 Ohio State players were paid

(Pryor, seen at 2011 event, ratted out teammates, DiGeronimo to NCAA)

As seen below, one of the auction items at the 2008 Cleveland-area charity benefit was titled “Dinner with Beanie.” The sign display clearly states that personal access to then-current Ohio State football players Beanie Wells and Lawrence Wilson was available - at a price.

Bobby DiGeronimo OSU Rogue Booster Sold Right To Dine With Beanie Wells Buckeyes At 2008 Charity Event

Ironic that the partly-obscured description of the “Dinner with Beanie” experience sold by DiGeronimo that year also noted the words “strict compliance“, considering Ohio State is on the record in stating that the rogue Buckeye booster’s entire event that year was non-compliant.

Ohio State Buckeyes, including Branden Smith, broke NCAA rules at 2008 charity event in Cleveland

 (Same 2008 OSU Booster Event Where ‘Dinner with Beanie’ Auctioned)

A week ago DiGeronimo contended to the Plain Dealer that his providing envelopes containing cash to three Ohio State players who, at the time, had never started a game “was the only time players have been paid in the gala’s eight years.

Ohio State Players at 2008 Cleveland Charity Event - Noncompliant

(Some of the Buckeyes who attended 2008 non-compliant DiGeronimo event)

So what’s the odds Ohio State compliance ever investigated whether Wells and Wilson paid for their own dinners - and travel expenses - for participating in the DiGeronimo-germinated Buckeye football fan experience?

Check? Please.

Brooks is on Twitter, Facebook and at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com.

2008: Ohio St. Broke Rules at Same Charity Event

EXCLUSIVE: Ohio State football players Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown remain suspended after the school recently reported to the NCAA that the three received $200 each - from envelopes - at a Cleveland charity event last February.

Ohio State Buckeyes, including Branden Smith, broke NCAA rules at 2008 charity event in Cleveland

(Smith in ‘08: Non-compliant at same event Buckeyes were paid in 2011)

As part of its report to the NCAA, Ohio State Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Archie noted:

All of the current student-athletes Incorrectly believed that their participation in the event had been approved by the OSU compliance office, The OSU compliance office did not approve participation in the [redacted] 2011 event, but did approve the same event on [redacted] 2007 and [redacted], 2011. Please note that there was nothing impermissible about the event because It meets the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 12.5.1, but the student-athletes did not obtain prior approval from the institution to attend the event as Is required under the NCAA legislation.

Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported today that the NCAA has since responded to Ohio State’s self-reported violations by submitting questions to the school about the charity event in question - and that OSU has since “responded with some answers.

Terrelle Pryor at Charity Event in Cleveland where 3 Ohio State players were paid

(Then-current Buckeye Terrelle Pryor @ 2011 event where players paid)

As Ohio State noted in its report, the current football players obtained clearance from OSU compliance for the 2007 and 2010 annual charity event, but not for the same event that was held in 2008.

Ohio State Players at 2008 Cleveland Charity Event - Noncompliant

(Browning, Wilson (track suit), Rose, Gibson, Lane Broke NCAA Rules in 2008)

Though from photos from the latter charity gathering, then-current Ohio State football players Beanie Wells, Lawrence Wilson, Shaun Lane, Bryant Browning, Thaddeus Gibson, Branden Smith, Nate Oliver and Jermale Hines and current Ohio State player Daniel “Boom” Herron can be seen in attendance at the same Cleveland fundraiser - in 2008 - in which current Buckeyes Hall, Brown and Howard were given cash in 2011. Read more…