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Ohio State loses six recruits to poor academics

The Associated Press

A quarter of the 24 recruits expected on campus won’t play this fall because of academic problems.

Wednesday, August 04, 1999

A quarter of the 24 recruits expected on campus won’t play this fall because of academic problems. Three were turned down by Ohio State’s admissions office and another three by the NCAA’s clearinghouse on freshman eligibility.

It was the latest in a series of academic failures and close calls for Buckeye players.

Ohio State athletics director Andy Geiger, speaking by phone Tuesday from the Big Ten football meetings in Chicago, said previous academic shortcomings aren’t connected to the current ones.

”No, I don’t think you should read those problems into it,” he said. ”Each case is treated individually and I don’t think that there’s a change in policy because of that. I don’t think it’s relative to anything else other than the individuals involved.”

Coach John Cooper declined to comment to reporters in Chicago.

Ohio State’s admissions office refused the applications of defensive back Ziyier Walker of Fork Union (Va.) Academy, running back Richard Hall of Wyoming, Ohio, and receiver Maurice Harris of Jacksonville, Fla.

Geiger said it marked the first time since he came to Ohio State in April of 1994 that the school’s admissions office had determined recruits were unfit to enroll.

”The burden of proof is on the recruiters and on the athletic department to present candidates that can qualify for admission,” Geiger said. ”In every situation there are gatekeepers and in this case the gatekeepers felt that these young people would have problems doing the work at Ohio State.”

Offensive lineman Bryce Bishop of Miami – perhaps the most touted of the incoming freshmen – was expected to compete for playing time immediately after two-time All-American offensive lineman Rob Murphy flunked out of school this spring.

But Bishop, defensive back Curtis Crosby of Columbus’ Eastmoor High School and receiver Maurice Lee of Cleveland South all were turned down by the NCAA.

Asked if any of the six could be available to play this fall, Geiger said, ”I don’t think so, but I don’t know for sure.”

Three starters – linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, defensive back Damon Moore and Murphy – had to pass second-term summer-school classes in order to be eligible last season. Two other players who were expected to be top substitutes, linebacker Chris Kirk and defensive tackle Paris Long, also encountered academic problems.

Kirk later returned to the team and both he and Long are set to play this fall. Katzenmoyer passed up his senior season to make himself eligible for the NFL draft and went in the first round to the New England Patriots. Moore finished his senior season and was taken in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Murphy was suspended from the team prior to spring practice because of his grades. He was dismissed from Ohio State in June because of continuing academic shortcomings and later signed to play with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.