The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
Posey and Herron were supposed to be reinstated this weekend after serving a five-game suspension issued last December for receiving improper benefits in association with a Columbus-area tattoo shop scandal.
"An employment violation involves three student-athletes whose eligibility for this weekend's game is affected," Smith said at a press conference Monday at Value City Arena. "DeVier Posey, Marcus Hall and Boom Herron."
The university has submitted a request for reinstatement to the NCAA on behalf of each of the players involved. Smith said the severity of the penalties beyond being suspended for the Nebraska game will be determined by the NCAA reinstatement committee.
Two other Buckeye players were also affected by the violation — linebacker Etienne Sabino and defensive lineman Melvin Fellows.
"There were two other athletes that's eligibility were affected," Smith said. "One was Melvin Fellows, who as you all know is a medical hardship, so there's really no issue there. And Sabino, who has already been reinstated for this weekend's game.
The violations involve excessive compensation under the employment of Robert DiGeronimo, a Cleveland-area booster who allowed the players to work part-time jobs for his various companies during the summer.
According to a report issued by the university Monday, the overpayments involved were between $60 and $728 — Posey $727.50, Herron $292.50, Hall $232.50, Fellows $292.50 and Sabino $60.
Smith announced Monday that the university has disassociated itself with DiGeronimo and associates.
"The violations that have affected the eligibility of these three players relate to their overpayment while being employed with companies associated with Robert DiGeronimo, an individual who was recently disassociated by the university as a result of several student-athletes receiving extra benefits surrounding a charity event in February," Smith stated. "The university and the NCAA enforcement staff are in the final stages of the resolution of this case, and I anticipate having further information in that regard in the near future."
The major issue besides losing three key players for their game Saturday at Nebraska is whether or not the NCAA will hold the university with lack of institutional control? If the NCAA finds Ohio State systemically responsible, major sanctions could follow.
Smith, however, feels "very strongly" that the NCAA will not charge Ohio State with failure to monitor.
"I am confident in our complience program, we do not have a systemic problem," Smith said. "I know most people don't understand that, these were individual decisions outside the complience operation, that individuals made.
"So, I feel very strongly about our efforts in complience and the other measures we've put in place, as a result from our learnings this summer. I do not believe we will get to that point (of being charged with failure to monitor."