NCAA rules linebacker Palaie Gaoteote eligible to play for Ohio State

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State linebacker Palaie Gaoteote played in 20 games at Southern California in three seasons.

A day after it appeared that Palaie Gaoteote would not play for Ohio State in 2021, the NCAA has approved the linebacker's petition for eligibility.

Ohio State and NCAA spokesperson Michelle Brutlag Hosick confirmed the approval late Friday afternoon.

On Thursday, Day told reporters that the organization had denied a petition for eligibility. Later Thursday, OSU released a clarification, saying that Gaoteote is not currently eligible but that the school is continuing to work with the NCAA on the petition.

The Dispatch learned Friday morning that the NCAA had not rejected the petition but declined to give a timetable for a decision. That decision came hours later.

Gaoteote (pronounced PAH-lah-ee-aye NAH-oh-tay-oh-tay) was a five-star 2018 recruit who played at Southern California in 20 games in three injury-marred seasons. He transferred to Ohio State in June but is not on scholarship while his case is resolved.

When Gaoteote first joined the Buckeyes, he was the only linebacker with starting experience, having started 14 games in his three seasons at USC.  

Both linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Teradja Mitchell made their first career starts in last week’s season-opening win at Minnesota. 

Gaoteote had been practicing with the Buckeyes but had not been taking first-team reps because of the uncertainty of his future.