COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - The lawyer for several suspended Ohio State football players is charging the NCAA with ignoring documentation which he says exonerates or reduces the culpability of his clients.
“From their (the NCAA’s) accusations, the inference is that they had their minds made up and nobody was going to change it,” Columbus attorney Larry James said on Sunday.
He said the players did nothing wrong and should not be penalized.
“This is total innocence,” he said.
“You read the NCAA statement (of allegations) and it says the NCAA was not provided with documentation _ now that’s patently false,” James said at his law firm’s office in a downtown high-rise. “You can take the NCAA and me out of it. What does the paper trail say?”
James made records available to The Associated Press which he believes the NCAA did not consider when suspending receiver DeVier Posey for five games for accepting too much pay from a summer job. Last year’s leading rusher, Daniel Herron, along with offensive lineman Marcus Hall and defensive lineman Melvin Fellows were held out of only the Buckeyes’ 34-27 loss at Nebraska on Saturday.
Those three return this week for the game at No. 15 Illinois. Posey, who along with Herron was also suspended for the first five games of the season for accepting improper benefits from a tattoo-parlor owner, cannot play until the Nov. 19 game against Penn State _ leaving him two games in his senior season.
The NCAA determined that Posey was overpaid $728, Herron and Fellows both accepted approximately $290 in excess pay and Hall received $230 in overpayment from an Independence, Ohio, businessman, Bobby DiGeronimo. Ohio State has banned DiGeronimo, a longtime booster, friend of the program and of players and coaches, from any further contact with Buckeyes athletes and staffers.
James produced detailed records of work hours for each of the players involved, at one point correlating Posey’s phone records with his work record, saying they showed that Posey was indeed on the job site and not collecting money without even appearing for work as alleged by the NCAA.
James is being retained by Ohio State with nonpublic funds to represent several Ohio State players. He said the NCAA apparently ignored material he has sent them throughout the summer and fall to back up the players’ contention that they were not overpaid.
“Everything _ bank, phone and work records _ all came from me to the NCAA,” James said. “Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had just told me, ‘Save your paper’? Instead, I’m saying, ‘What else do you need?’”
The NCAA and James both say that the players said they did not know how much they would be paid, but they expected roughly $14 or $15 per hour to work in a car wash, pick up scrap metal or clean up a storage room.
The players did not receive clearance from Ohio State’s NCAA compliance department to work the jobs, as required by the NCAA.
Posey told the NCAA he worked alongside union laborers. James said that was why there was such a disparity in his pay compared to the other players. The NCAA concluded that Posey worked only 21.5 hours at a rate of $15 an hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed.