Banned Ohio St. Booster Selling Tickets On Ebay

At the time of this posting, less than an hour remains in an Ebay auction for disassociated Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo’s tickets to the Buckeyes-Nebraska game tomorrow - with no bids as of yet.

Bobby DiGeronimo Disassociated Ohio State Booster Selling Tickets On Ebay

(Attendance: Optional)

Earlier this week DiGeronimo was cited for overpaying five Ohio State football players for summer job work. Those overpayments - discovered by NCAA investigators - led to three of the Buckeyes involved, DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Marcus Hall being suspended for the game in Lincoln.

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Bobby D Speaks; Seen With OSU Rose Bowl Ring

On Feb. 4, 2011, disassociated Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo appeared on WMJI-FM’s “Lanigan & Malone” morning show in Cleveland to promote the charity event which ultimately rendered three Buckeye football players ineligible.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Banned OSU Booster Has His Own Championship Ring? Of Course He Does)

DiGeronimo has since admitted to giving three Ohio State players envelopes containing cash at this Feb. 19, 2011, Cornerstone of Hope Gala, which has subsequently led to his own formal ban from all contact with OSU athletics.


During his Cleveland radio appearance, DiGeronimo led off his description of the the event thusly:

“… We try to make this fun, we do about 25 minutes of serious stuff, including introducing all the Ohio State Buckeyes on this current team that’ll be there, last year there was 20 of them. Then Troy Smith, Teddy Ginn, Robert Smith, Mike Vrabel, Tom Cousineau, Doug Dieken, those kind of people show up and give us their support. And we have some great auction prizes …

Among the current Ohio State football players who attended the Feb. 19, 2011, event were Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Hall, Corey Brown, Travis Howard and, as reported only by SbB, Nathan Williams and Braxton Miller. SbB also broke the news that Pryor’s late August testimony to the NCAA was why Hall, Brown and Howard were cited - and suspended - by Ohio State for the DiGeronimo cash grab.

Ironic that DiGeronimo didn’t cite John Cooper as a past or future attendee of the Feb. 19, 2011, charity event to the Cleveland radio show considering the rogue OSU booster’s close relationship with the former Ohio State head football coach. It was Cooper who afforded DiGeronimo sideline and locker room access at Ohio State football games, along with rides on the team plane.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Yes, The Photo Is Real. And Spectacular.)

Not to mention an Ohio State championship ring that DiGeronimo was seen wearing in an Associated Press photo in 1998.

In the above photo DiGeronimo, who has also staged Cooper’s annual charity event golf tournament the past two years, can be seen wearing what appears to be a personalized 1996-97 Big Ten Rose Bowl Championship Ring identical to the rings given to OSU players and coaches.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Photo Credit: Mark Hall of the ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Here’s a link to a sample of Cooper’s ring - which is clearly the same style ring DiGeronimo was photographed wearing while he attempted to escort the Buckeyes football coach off the playing field following Ohio State’s 31-16 victory over Michigan on Nov. 21, 1998.

If you had had that kind of access to the Ohio State football program - not to mention the accompanying bling - would you throw away that 30 -year relationship by handing $200 to three players who hadn’t yet started a game at Ohio State?

That’s essentially what DiGeronimo claimed he did when he told the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER on Sept. 21, 2011, that the cash envelopes were the only time he’d paid OSU football players. Ever.

Apparently DiGeronimo forgot he paid still-suspended star Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey over $700 for summer job work Posey didn’t do, along with overpayments to four other Buckeyes including still-suspended OSU running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.

So now that he’s officially disassociated from the Ohio State football program - thanks to recent testimony to the NCAA by Terrelle Pryor - will DiGeronimo have to give his Big Ten & Rose Bowl ring back to the school?

As Ohio State gave Pryor, who is now disassociated himself from the school, a 2010 Big Ten championship ring from a now-vacated season, I have a sneaking feeling I am the first - and last - person to ask that question.

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Ohio St: 326 Percent Overpayment “Not Obvious”

Today Ohio State released a statement detailing more NCAA violations involving the football program. In the NCAA-addressed report, OSU confirmed that 30-year Buckeye booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who last month was cited for paying Ohio State players at his 2011 Cleveland-based charity event, also “provided five (OSU) student-athletes wages in excess of hours worked.  While the student-athletes were provided an appropriate wage and performed the work asked of them, the then representative paid the five student-athletes in excess of the number of hours worked.

(DeVier Posey: 326 Percent Overpayment By Booster ‘Not Obvious’?)

As a result of the violations, DeVier Posey, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Marcus Hall have been declared ineligble to play football for Ohio State. While the school has applied to the NCAA for their reinstatement, it’s unclear when the players will return.In the report, Ohio State Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Archie noted “the following mitigation” as it pertained to the NCAA violations by Posey, Herron and Hall:

It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid.  The student-athletes were not told their hourly wage.  According to the controller, no timecards were completed, as a supervisor verbally reported the hours worked to the controller, who wrote the check.  The check provided to the student-athletes did not include the number of hours worked nor the hourly wage.  As a result, while the student-athletes generally understood the number of hours they worked due to their presence at the job site, they did not know their hourly rate and would not have known if they were overpaid. 

Later in the report, Archie provided this summary of payments made from DiGeronimo - via his company Independence Excavating - to DeVier Posey:

Based on employment information provided by Independence as to the amount paid and the rate of pay, it was determined that DeVier was paid for 70 hours of work at a rate of $15.00 per hour. The NCAA Enforcement staff and institution concluded that DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

OSU’s accounting translates to Posey being overpaid by now-disassociated OSU booster DiGeronimo by 326 percent.

In the second-to-last paragraph of his report to the NCAA on behalf of Ohio State, Archie states:

While the institution acknowledges that the student-athletes were paid by Independence for work not performed, it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

So in less than two pages, Ohio State’s Associate Athletic Director for Compliance indicated to the NCAA:

1)  It was not obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

2) DeVier worked a total of 21.5 hours at a rate of $15.00 per hour, and therefore was paid for 48.5 hours of work that was not performed (an over payment of $727.50).

3) … it may not have been obvious to the student-athletes that they were being overpaid

Not as obvious - at least as a 326 percent overpayment - was why DiGeronimo wasn’t disassociated by Ohio State until Sept. 20, 2011.

In the OSU report to the NCAA, Archie also attached a June 29, 2011, letter from DiGeronimo to the attorney of the five Ohio State players.

In that communique DiGeronimo detailed the hours the five Ohio State student-athletes allegedly worked for Independence Excavating - hours that were subseqently found to be fraudulent and in the case of DeVier Posey, wildly overstated.

But in the Sept. 20, 2011, dissociation letter from OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith to DiGeronimo, there was no mention of any NCAA rules impropriety involving summer jobs for Buckeye football players.

Why did it take Ohio State six weeks to disassociate booster after letter detailing bogus work hours by OSU football players?

So when exactly did Ohio State find out that DiGeronimo had - according to OSU and the NCAA - exaggerated the hours worked by Buckeye football players? Today’s OSU report to the NCAA doesn’t say - this is all we get:

The institution and Enforcement Staff determined the actual number of hours worked based upon cell telephone and bank records and the student-athletes’ testimony.    

If the NCAA and Ohio State had already zeroed in on the hours worked of those five players -  so much so that DiGeronimo sent a letter to the attorney of the players detailing hours worked of that particular quintet - why the six week delay by Ohio State to disassociate DiGeronimo?

And no announcment until today?

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

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.

Blacklisted by OSU, Talbott Now Works MGOBLUE

UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2011, 12:36am PT): The ASSOCIATED PRESS corrects the record, noting that Dennis Talbott did not cite his affiliation with This Week In Football - or Icon SMI - when obtaining a sideline media credential under the name “Jay Talbott” for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Dennis Talbott Ohio Sports Weekly

(Website? Dormant. Talbott Facebook page? Awash in Michigan pics!) 

Instead, Talbott duped Michigan into gifting him a field pass by noting his affiliation with the website OhioSportsWeekly.com. What Talbott neglected to tell UM when he obtained his precious credential on August 31 was that he himself owned the OhioSportsWeekly.com domain - and had slapped up an empty storefront at the web address designed only to persuade media relations personnel into thinking Talbott was a member of the working media.

In the three weeks since Talbott shot the Michigan-Western Michigan game, he has added dozens of photos of the game - including one of himself shooting the action from the sideline - to his Facebook page. Yet the so-called media outlet Talbott claimed as his sole reason for being at the Big House, OhioSportsWeekly.com, not only hasn’t been updated since the UM-WMU game, the site has remained virtually unchanged since Feb. 1, 2011.

UPDATE (Sept. 20, 2011, 1:05pm ET): Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports that after learning from the SbB report below that Ohio State-blacklisted photog Dennis Talbott had gained sideline media access for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan football game at Michigan Stadium, the school announced today that Talbott “has been banned by the Michigan athletic department.

Dennis Talbott: Banned by Michigan after SbB report

(Talbott fallback? Shooting rogue OSU booster’s favorite high school coach)

Rothstein reported that Talbott used an “unfamiliar” name while claiming affiliation with the very same publication that scored him sidelines at Ohio State beginning in 2009 - and access to the high school coach who has sent the most players to Ohio State the past decade, Cleveland-Glenville head coach Ted Ginn, Sr.

- - -

Three months ago an anonymous source alleged to ESPN that Dennis Talbott, a Central Ohio-based businessman with a sudden, new-found love for photography, “made at least 35 payments to [Terrelle] Pryor in 2009 and 2010 for signing memorabilia, for a total payout of between $20,000 and $40,000.

Dennis Talbott shooting Michigan game on Sept. 3, 2011

(Banned By Ohio State, Talbott Now Employing Northern Exposure)

Following the ESPN report, SbB revealed details of those transactions and an eBay account and now-defunct company from which Talbott sold dozens of collectibles featuring the signatures and likenesses of then-current Buckeye football players.

So how did Talbott acquire the access needed to enable such a “business“?

One way was to affiliate himself with a small Ohio-based online publication called This Week In Football. Talbott struck up that relationship in large part to (somehow) obtain photographer media credentials from Ohio State - despite having never shot as a professional photographer until 2009. Talbott actually stumbled upon the idea of posing as a pro photog after snapping some pics from the sidelines of 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

Jim Tressel signing memorabilia for Dennis Talbott

Starting with the 2009 Ohio State football season, armed with sideline access provided by Ohio State, Talbott accumulated his own product - which he reproduced for signings  and sales - while also gaining the acccess needed to develop personal relationships with players like Pryor, DeVier Posey, Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson.

It wasn’t long before Ohio State-licensed memorabilia dealers caught on to Talbott’s “photography” con thanks to his prior reputation as an unafraid purveyor of the sale of unlicensed OSU product - along with his alleged penchant for forging the signature of a head coach known for his flagpin affinity.

It was that steady stream of beefs from upstanding memorabilia dealers, not anyone at Ohio State compliance or within the athletic department, that caused Talbott to eventually be stripped of his prized, Ohio State sideline pass. Between that loss, his eBay account being outed and the 2011 ESPN reports, Talbott’s trafficking of Ohio State current player memorabilia, save a stealth eBay account or three, seems to have ground to a halt.

Sufficiently shunned at the ‘Shoe, there was only one thing left for a hopeless black-marketer like Talbott to do.

Work MGOBLUE.

Dennis Talbott Facebook Photo Gallery

(All of Talbott’s shots from the Michigan-W. Michigan game on Sept. 3)

Thanks to his previous association with a small sports photo distribution company called Icon SMI - derived only from the legitimacy provided by OSU sideline access - Talbott was given sideline photographer media credentials by Michigan for its opening game of the season against Western Michigan. A staggering fact of which, if Talbott’s profile photo on his personal Facebook account is any indication, he’s quite proud.

As he’s paid by Icon SMI only for individual shots bought by media outlets, Talbott’s relationship with company has always been more about accesss to players than actual compensation. So it was gravy for him to be paid - albeit a modest sum - by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for this shot of Denard Robinson from the Sept. 3 game:

Dennis Talbott shot of Denard Robinson

(Okay I added the inset)

Probably not a coincidence that Talbott’s prize-winning shot was of Denard Robinson, considering the seeming vast demand (and supply) of Denard Robinson-signed” items for sale online. (Here’s another sweet 16 shot from the artist formerly know as “D. Jay Talbott” - coming to an eBay auction near you!)

So far there’s no obvious indication that Talbot transacted monetary gain from UM media access like he did Ohio State, but remember, our favorite fake photog isn’t a trader - he’s an investor!

Don’t believe me? Ask Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington.

While still current Ohio State players, Gibson and Worthington were receiving a wide variety of NCAA-rule-violating benefits from Columbus-based NFL agent Brad Cicala as Talbott was employing his photography-fueled grift. So if Talbott wanted a Pryor-like arrangement with Gibson and Worthington, he’d have to go through an NFL agent.

Below is a shot from an ESPN’s Outside The Lines investigative piece in which Talbott was seen - coincidentally or not - outside the office complex where Cicala’s Columbus agency was located.

Dennis Talbott outside Brad Cicala's office on ESPN's Outside The Lines

(More from ESPN’s exhaustive reporting on Talbott)

Cicala also currently reps journeyman NFL player and former Buckeye Roy Hall. It was Hall who helped Cicala connect the NFL agent with then-current Buckeye Worthington - who helped Cicala get in with Gibson, a former Cleveland-area high school star. Cicala later signed Gibson as an NFL client, a coup considering Gibson’s Ohio State position coach at the time was Luke Fickell - who has long been known for his close relationship with Cleveland-area NFL agent Neil Cornrich.

Helping Cicala land Worthington and Gibson was benefits like sweet seats to the Oct. 28, 2009, Jay-Z concert in Columbus, an actual recording studio in Gibson’s Columbus apartment and, of course, Cicala’s arrangement with Talbott.

But then again, who’s to say Worthington and Gibson wouldn’t have signed with Cicala anyway!

Just look at OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who enjoyed the company of dozens of Buckeyes over the years at his annual charity event in Cleveland despite providing them no benefits of any kind.

Why, I still can’t believe Bobby D. threw away his 30-year relationship with Ohio State because, in a completely isolated case, he felt like paying three Ohio State football players $200 each at his 2011 charity event.

Three players who’d never started a game.

With envelopes.

Did I mention it was a one-time deal?

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

OSU High School Recruits At Charity Cash Grab!?!

Earlier this week I reported that current Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was at the 2011 charity event hosted by rogue OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo.

Cardale Jones and Ted Ginn, Sr. at same charity event where Buckeyes were paid by Bobby DiGeronimo

(Then-Ohio State high school recruit Cardale Jones top-right)

Miller signed with Ohio State roughly three weeks before the fundraiser though he had already enrolled at the school when he made the Cleveland benefit scene where Buckeye teammates Jordan Hall, Corey Brown and Travis Howard pocketed cash envelopes from Bobby D. and then-teammate Terrelle Pryor.

The same can’t be said though for current Ohio State prized signee Cardale Jones, one of the top quarterback prospects in the country.

Jones signed with Ohio State last February and was still attending Glenville high school in Cleveland when he was photographed with his high school coach, Ted Ginn, Sr., at the exact 2011 fundraiser that cost Hall, Brown and Howard two games of eligibilty.

Jones is now attending Fork Union Academy and expected to enroll at OSU soon.

Current Ohio State player Christian Bryant was also photographed at DiGeronimo’s now-infamous annual event in 2010 two weeks after signing with Ohio State:

Boom Herron and Christian Bryant at Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Paid in 2011

(Current Ohio State players Boom Herron and Christian Bryant in 2010)

Like Jones, Bryant was still in high school - and wearing his Glenville High School letterman’s jacket! - when the above photo was taken on Feb. 20, 2010. Bryant in seen in the picture with current Ohio State running back Boom Herron, who also attended the Cleveland event hosted by booster DiGeronimo in 2008 and 2009.

Cleveland Charity Event Hosted By Bobby DiGeronimo Attended by Boom Herron Thaddeus Gibson and Terrelle Pryor in 2009

Ex-Ohio State players Pryor (below) and Thaddeus Gibson (above) were also at the 2009 Cleveland charity event hosted by DiGeronimo.

Cleveland Charity Event Hosted By Bobby DiGeronimo Attended by Boom Herron Thaddeus Gibson and Terrelle Pryor in 2009

(2009 Bobby D. Event photo of Pryor from OSU Student Newspaper!)

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell has yet to comment on the record about the revelation that Miller, Jones and Bryant were all at the Cleveland charity event where a 30-year OSU booster has admitted to paying Buckeye football players with envelopes containing cash. (Jones and Bryant were in high school when they attended the booster-run benefit.)

Perhaps Fickell just wants to be sure he has his facts straight before he addresses the subject in public.

For that, he can always call his current rep, NFL agent Neil Cornich, since previously the NFLPA-censured (twice) Cornrich was also photographed at the 2010 and 2011 Buckeye benefits host by Bobby D. in Cleveland.

Neil Cornrich and Cordale Jones and Ted Ginn Sr at Bobby DiGeronimo Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Were Paid Cash

On June 23, 2008, Liz Mullen of SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reported of the Cleveland-based Cornrich:

An NFL Players Association committee has voted to issue letters of reprimand to nine agents, including veteran agent Neil Cornrich .. for allegedly violating a new regulation prohibiting agents from contacting underclassmen.

Cornrich also reps former Ohio State football stars Robert Smith, Ted Ginn, Jr., Beanie Wells, Troy Smith and former Ohio State head coach John Cooper - with the previous quartet regular attendees of Bobby D.’s Cleveland charity events.

Neil Cornrich and Christian Bryant and Boom Herron at Bobby DiGeronimo Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Were Paid Cash

Oh, Cornrich is new Ohio State assistant coach Mike Vrabel’s agent too.

Handy.

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