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.
(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:
(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.
(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.
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.
(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.”
(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?