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College Sports, Division I

Registered Sex Offender Creates Ohio State Recruiting Controversy

On May 5, 2012, John Taylor of NBCSports.com posted an article regarding Pennsylvania high school linebacker Alex Anzalone’s decommitment from Ohio State University. Anazlone, who committed to OSU during the football program’s April 21, 2012, spring game, had posed for pictures with Charles Waugh and several other prospective student-athletes during the visit. According to Taylor, Waugh, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors, posted pictures with the recruits to his various social media accounts as well as sending messages to the recruits via Twitter. Anzalone later decommitted at the urging of his father.

Ohio State released the following statement addressing the issue.

“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures – taken in public places – with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person. The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes.”

In light of this story, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance offices: a) review policies and procedures regarding the monitoring and scheduling of events during prospective student-athletes visits to campus; b) include this story in the next scheduled educational session for athletics staff members and coaches; and c) review social monitoring “best practices” during the next scheduled educational session for student-athletes.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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