Sports Talk

Registered sex offender creates recruiting stir at Ohio State

There are some words you’d never think would be strung together to create a headline on a college football blog. The above is Exhibit A for that sentiment.  And B and C and a couple other letters as well

In one of the more bizarrely creepy — or creepily bizarre, if you prefer — stories of this or any other offseason, a registered sex offender in the state of Kentucky has apparently cost Ohio State a highly-touted recruit, at least for the moment.

At OSU’s spring game April 21, Pennsylvania high school linebacker Alex Anzalone, a four-star player in the Class of 2013 and the No. 16 outside LB in the country according to Rivals.com, verbally committed to the Buckeyes.  The night of that spring game, Anzalone, along with several recruits visiting the campus, posed for pictures with Charles Waugh, a 31-year-old “man” and the registered sex offender in question.

Shortly after those pictures were taken, Waugh, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors, posted them to his various social media accounts as well as sending messages to the recruits via Twitter.  At some point in the ensuing two weeks, Anzalone became aware of Waugh’s past and was “creeped out” per his father, leading to his decommitment at the urging of his dad.

On Friday, as the controversy began to grow, OSU released a statement addressing the issue.

“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures – taken in public places – with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person. The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes.”

Along with the statement, an email sent from OSU’s compliance department to student-athletes warning them of Waugh contained a mugshot of the individual as well as links to informational sites about how to block Twitter and Facebook users, the Daily Lantern, the OSU student newspaper which originally broke the story, wrote.

Even as Anzalone’s father urged his son to backtrack on his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, the father also wanted to make it clear that he does not blame the OSU football program or the coaching staff for his son’s on-campus encounter with the convicted sex offender.

“Ohio State had no idea that this guy was a perv,” Dr. Sal Anzalone told ESPN.com. “They were totally unaware. Let’s make that very clear. That’s not Ohio State.

“But Alex was creeped out by him. He thought something was wrong. Alex wasn’t going to get hurt. Alex could knock him out. But the point is, this creep shouldn’t be near recruits.”

With his recruitment reopen, Anzalone will once again consider USC, Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida and Stanford, with the latter two perceived as the current front-runners.  Oh, and there’s one more school Anzalone will consider: Ohio State.

That’s right.  The elder Anzalone left the door open for a a second verbal commitment to the Columbus school by his son.

“It’s a possibility,” Sal Anzalone said. “Things change. You can’t hold them responsible for other people’s behavior.”

(Photo credit: Kentucky State Police Sex Offender Registry website)