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Bill would let OSU sue booster

December 31, 2011

Lou Whitmire
Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD -- A state representative is planning to introduce a bill that would allow Ohio State to sue a northeast Ohio football booster who is at the center of the NCAA's punishment of the school.

Jay Goyal, D-Mansfield, said the bill would allow a university to sue a booster or agent for damages.

The NCAA stripped Ohio State of scholarships and barred it from a Big Ten championship and bowl games next year in part because Cleveland-area businessman Bobby DiGeronimo was paying players for appearances at charitable events and for work they didn't perform.

"The intent of the bill is to protect taxpayer-supported educational institutions," Goyal said Friday.

Under Goyal's bill, an Ohio college or university will be able to bring a civil action for damages and "equitable relief" against an athlete's agent, current and former staff members or anyone who intentionally causes an athlete to violate athletic association regulations.

OSU's situation was an influencing factor for Goyal to pursue such a bill.

"This has happened quite a bit in college athletics," he said.

Goyal announced his intentions Dec. 21, a day after the NCAA hammered Ohio State with penalties for actions by former coach Jim Tressel, DiGeronimo and a number of football players, including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

In Ohio State's case, the financial setbacks start with the athletics department having to forfeit its $338,811 profit from the Buckeyes' appearance in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. An NCAA-ordered bowl ban for the 2012 season means Ohio State will be deprived again next year. The university's final legal bill also looms from defending the football program during the year-long investigation by the NCAA and a variety of media outlets.