OSU coach denies directing payment to player

Bill Rabinowitz,Joey Kaufman

Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson strongly denied on Wednesday an accusation made by a financial adviser in federal court that Johnson encouraged payment to a football player while an assistant at Penn State.

Marty Blazer, a former Pittsburgh-based financial adviser, testified in federal court in New York on Tuesday that he paid $10,000 to the father of a Penn State football player in 2009 with the encouragement of Johnson, then an assistant coach for the Nittany Lions.

"In no uncertain terms and unequivocally that at no time did I ever ask any person to provide monies to a player or a player's family member with college eligibility remaining for any purpose, let alone to the player referenced by Blazer," Johnson said in a text to The Dispatch. "It is a complete fabrication with no proof or basis in fact. We will take any and all legal actions against Mr. Blazer for making such slanderous statements to protect my name and reputation, which I have worked for 40 years as a coach, mentor, husband and grandfather to create."

The testimony was detailed by several reporters who were in attendance at the latest federal corruption trial examining college basketball. It was the first time that the case involved college football. 

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Blazer, a cooperating witness for the government, said he paid football players at several major programs, including Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame, from 2000 until 2014, though not coaches.

Johnson is now Ohio State’s associate head coach and defensive line coach. He remains the longest-tenured on-field assistant for the Buckeyes, first hired by Urban Meyer in 2014 after more than a decade on the coaching staff at Penn State. 

In an interview with Yahoo Sports following Tuesday's trial session, Johnson denied the allegation, calling it "not accurate at all” and “absolutely false.”

“I would never, ever ask anybody to do that,” he added. “That is not me.”

Johnson did not immediately reply to a text message from The Dispatch seeking comment.

According to Blazer’s testimony, as outlined by Yahoo Sports and in other media outlets, Johnson asked in 2009 that Blazer pay the father of Aaron Maybin, a linebacker for Penn State who was considering applying for early entry to the NFL draft, and helped arrange a meeting between them.

The payment was intended to entice Maybin to remain in school, though he ultimately declared for the draft and his father repaid the $10,000, according to the testimony.



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