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COLUMBUS -- Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Thursday the Buckeyes are not facing major violations, emphatically clarifying a report that suggested the school could be in more trouble with the NCAA.An ambiguous comment attributed to Smith in Thursday's edition of OSU's student newspaper caused a momentary stir across the state. Smith told the Lantern that Ohio State is in the process of reporting 12 violations to the NCAA, and is quoted as saying the infractions "may turn out to be secondary" or "may not."
Smith later said he meant some of the infractions would be deemed too trivial to qualify even as relatively harmless secondary violations. But many fans deduced the worst-case scenario for OSU: a football program on probation for the 2010 tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal facing further major violations.
"Contrary to reports attributed to me, Ohio State athletics is not facing any major NCAA violations," Smith said in a statement. "There are several secondary violations being processed by our compliance office. ... Again, these are secondary in nature and consistent with our culture of self-reporting even the most minor and inadvertent violations."
The dozen violations appear on par with the list of infractions Ohio State released last week.
Since May 31, 2011, OSU has reported 46 secondary violations in 21 sports -- most appearing to be unintentional breaches of the NCAA's 400-plus page rulebook. Among them, football coach Urban Meyer wished recruit Noah Spence "good luck" before a game last fall, assistant coach Mike Vrabel was spotted on television using smokeless tobacco on the sideline, and assistant Stan Drayton mistakenly sent a recruit a text message rather than an email as he intended. Coaches are not permitted to text high school prospects.
According to OSU, the 12 potential pending violations spanned six sports. The football violations up for review include an assistant coach posting a message on a recruit's Facebook wall and, strangely, the use of mini basketballs during a winter conditioning workout.
The Buckeyes' baseball team was charged with providing free gear to a high school senior who showed up to a team camp for students in grades 9 through 11. OSU's compliance report states a staff member gave the athlete a shirt "to defuse the situation when he got upset that he couldn't compete."
By definition, secondary violations are "inadvertent or isolated" and provide little recruiting or competitive advantage.
With 36 varsity sports -- other Big Ten schools have an average of 22 sports -- Ohio State has consistently led the Big Ten in the number of secondary violations reported annually. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said the school views self-reporting infractions as a healthy part of the compliance process.
The Buckeyes' football team is on probation for the next three years and ineligible for postseason play this fall.