PDT Sports Editor
A convicted sex offender from Ashland (Ky.) has contributed to Ohio State football recruit Alex Anzalone’s decision to reverse his commitment to the Buckeyes.
According to reports from ESPN and the Reading (Pa.) Eagle as well as Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, Charles Eric Waugh, 31, of Ashland has been in contact with Ohio State players and recruits both personally and via the social networking websites Twitter and Facebook. Waugh also posted photos of himself with Ohio State recruits after the Ohio State spring football game.
According to the Lantern report, Ohio State compliance director Doug Archie sent an email earlier this week to student-athletes warning them about Waugh and urging caution when dealing with social networking acquaintances. The email included a mugshot of Waugh from the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry website and a link to a 2008 article from the Ashland Daily Independent about Waugh’s guilty plea on five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors.
A text message was also sent to student-athletes to educate them on ways to block messages from Waugh.
A day after the Lantern’s Thursday report, Anzalone rescinded his commitment to Ohio State. The Ohio State University’s Department of Athletics released a statement Friday evening regarding the situation.
“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue,” the statement said. “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 statement also said Waugh is not associated with the University in any way and the Department of Athletics would continue to monitor the situation.
Initially, there was no indication the linebacker recruit’s interaction with Waugh after the April 21 spring game was related to the decision to reopen his recruitment. However an article by the Eagle connected Waugh and the move away from the Buckeyes Saturday morning.
“You don’t want your son to go to a place where there’s a potential issue (like this),” Sal Anzalone, Alex Anzalone’s father told the Eagle. “You expect the (football) staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous.
“I was concerned with what recruits do and with them being allowed to visit these kind of places where it puts kids at risk. That’s the issue. You entrust people (at the school) to do the right thing.”
Waugh, whose address is listed on the sex offender registry as 308 W. New Buckley Road, Ashland, avoided prison in his 2008 conviction but was placed on probation.
Kentucky Revised Statute 17.546 stipulates that, “No registrant, as defined in KRS 17.500, shall knowingly or intentionally use a social networking website or an instant messaging or chatroom program if that website or program allows a person who is less than eighteen (18) years of age to access or use the website or program. Any person who violates (that) subsection shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”
The Daily Times contacted the Kentucky State Police about the possibility of Waugh violating the terms of his probation. Trooper Elliott Gollihue said more information about Waugh’s status will be available Monday once the Investigative Lieutenant and Sergeant return.
“I just spoke with our post dispatcher who informed they do not have anything logged in our files concerning Mr. Waugh,” Gollihue said. “This does not mean we are not working anything on it. Sometimes our Investigative Lieutenant or Sergeant receives reports like this and it does not always make it to the dispatchers right away.”
Sal Anzalone spoke with ESPN Saturday and left open the possibility of his son recommitting to Ohio State.
“It’s a possibility,” Sal Anzalone said. “Things change. You can’t hold (the school) responsible for other people’s behavior.”
The elder Anzalone said he had nothing against the Ohio State coaching staff.
“Ohio State had no idea that this guy was a perv,” Sal Anzalone said. “They were totally unaware. Let’s make that very clear. That’s not Ohio State.”
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.