Patrick Mayhorn also contributed to this article.
A masseuse not affiliated with Ohio State engaged in sexual activities with five student-athletes from the football team after “using those massages as a means to initiate sexual interactions,” according to records released by Ohio State and obtained by BSB. Those who received sexual activities said they were consensual.
Gene Smith, Ohio State athletic director, told media in a Zoom call Thursday that no NCAA violations were committed by Ohio State based on the results of the investigation. He also indicated that no laws seemed to be broken by either party.
Smith emphasized the character that was displayed by student-athletes within the program during the investigation and said the findings have been released because Ohio State holds itself to a higher standard and encourages complete transparency.
“I’m thankful that our student-athletes, our coaches and staff were honest, forthright and open during the investigation, and I’m really thankful that they maintained confidentiality, affording the investigation the opportunity to operate without distraction and be able to operate with integrity,” Smith said.
Of the 117 interviews with former and current Ohio State student-athletes, 34 had knowledge of the massage therapist, nine interacted with her over social media or knew about her directly from players on the team, and 20 more student-athletes strictly received a massage.
The report also states that “virtually all of the football student athletes who were massaged by the massage therapist only received between 1-3 massages.”
One student, listed as student-athlete No. 4 (SA004), was used by the massage therapist, a 41-year-old female who lives two hours northeast of Ohio State, as a way to provide her access to other players on the team and to “legitimize herself as a massage therapist as she pursued sexual encounters with other OSU football student athletes,” according to the findings.
“During his interview, SA004 indicated he paid $100 for each of the first three or four massages, but then the massage therapist gave him subsequent massages for free,” the report states. “SA004 estimated he received 50 to 60 massages in total. As discussed above, the massage therapist used SA004 to gain access to other football student athletes in her pursuit of sexual encounters.”
According to the investigation, the massage therapist did not have contact with any student-athletes from any other sports than the Ohio State football team. She has had her license revoked for her actions.
Ohio State employs independent massage therapists associated with the teams that are required to go through compliance and operate with a trainer in the room at all times, according to Smith.
In the findings, some student-athletes described the sexual contact from the massage therapist as “touching their genital area either accidentally or in an inappropriate way during massages.” No student-athletes reported the incidents to law enforcement or to any Ohio State staff, “particularly because the massage therapist stopped when the football student-athletes objected.”
Smith said that Ohio State began working with the NCAA as soon as it was aware of the investigation. The wrongdoing was reported to the State Medical Board of Ohio initially on March 14, 2020, though Smith said that he has no clue who reported it. He also emphasized that there was no wrongdoing from the players, and the only consideration to not releasing the findings would have been to protect the safety of the student-athletes.
The conclusion section of the report – which was done by Barnes & Thornburg, an independent law firm – states that the massage therapist made these actions and carried out a plan “for what appeared to fulfill her personal infatuation with Ohio State football student-athletes.”
“She had no connection to the Athletics Department or the University. The apparent purpose of the scheme was to engage in sexual encounters with OSU football student-athletes. No coaches or staff had any knowledge of the massage therapist or her scheme,” the conclusion reads. “No deficiencies were detected in the OSU compliance program to protect against such schemes or other threats to the physical safety of its football student-athletes.
“Although there was no determination of a criminal violation, it nevertheless would be prudent to refer the massage therapist’s activity to a prosecutor for consideration.”
Smith indicated that the massage therapist used her connections to these players to be close to and have sex with Ohio State football players but did not have an ulterior end goal.