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ITEM: A Cleveland-based masseuse admitted she gave some Ohio State University football players more than back rubs last year and was apparently forced to give up her license after an investigation by an OSU-hired law firm. She provided massages to a couple dozen OSU football players while wandering through an apartment complex populated by the players and reportedly had sex with a few. She later denied any wrongdoing. The OSU-paid-for report said no NCAA violations were done.

COMMENT:  OSU has a cast of dozens of coaches and other employees of the football team and the athletic department who should be doing a better job of supervising their athletes after hours than to let this kind of mischief go on. Head coach Ryan Day is ultimately responsible for his players' behavior, but apparently was cleared by the report. Super-secret OSU kept this under wraps for more than a year perhaps so as not to release it during the football season when football players involved might have to be suspended and fans might yell at the players, "Where's the rub?" The Big Ten and the NCAA should take an independent look at this tale of a "masseuse on the loose," but it would jeopardize the millions of dollars that OSU earns for the league and the national association and probably won't happen. Netflix might be interested in a made for streaming movie. More red faces for the Scarlet and Gray.

ITEM: OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith was rewarded for sweeping the masseuse matter under the rug (so far) and for the athletic department only losing $50 million this academic year instead of his original projection of a $100 million loss. Smith's new contract pays him nearly $3 million annually for the next four years. Still that is apparently not enough money to afford to take his wife on road trips, so he gets $12,000 for spousal travel, so to speak.

COMMENT: New OSU President Kristina Johnson clearly understands that the quickest way to run afoul of OSU alumni and jeopardize her job would be to crack down on the athletic department. She was buddying up to Smith even before she officially began the job in August and appeared thrilled to engage in street talk with Smith. Texts uncovered by the Columbus Dispatch found the twosome discussing that OSU could not play an independent football schedule with the Big Ten shut down.  "You chill," wrote Smith. "Bummer," replied Johnson. Or were they actually communicating about the masseuse on the loose?

ITEM: OSU announced big increases for incoming freshmen on main campus in the fall. According to The Lantern, tuition is rising 3.8 percent and room and board 2.5 percent, bringing the total annual outlay to nearly $30,000. Students completing their bachelor's degrees in 4 years must pony up nearly $120,000, much of which is likely to be borrowed. Out of state and international students pays lots more.

COMMENT: You chill. Bummer.

ITEMS: Let's lump betting, gambling and vaccinations together as the Ohio Legislature prepares to legalize sports gambling and Gov. Mike DeWine sweet talks jab-resistant Ohioans into taking a vaccine poke in return for a shot at $1 million or free tuition at a state university. First, surrounding states have legalized sports gambling and Ohio is losing tax money as folks cross state lines or pretend they are residents of West Virginia long enough to place sports bets. The Ohio Lottery Commission and the Casino Control Commission have been duking it out over who gets the prize and the Republican-dominated Ohio House and Senate apparently are going to split the sports bet baby between the two commissions. Second, Gov. DeWine has been getting largely positive national and statewide publicity over his Vax-a-Million giveaway plan. The Dispatch editorial board, such as it is, proclaimed it a "genius move." There was an uptick in vaccinations immediately after the plan was announced.

COMMENT:   It's all about fund-raising. Part one: My guess is that some big donor to DeWine suggested tongue-in-cheek that DeWine ought to offer a big prize to get shots in shy Ohioans' arms. DeWine presumably thought the donor was serious and needs a big check for his re-election campaign so he said, "Great Idea," and green-lighted Vax-a-Million. He is using federal rescue money so his political opponents can't say he is wasting Ohio tax money. That a hunk of Ohioans need to be bribed to get a jab and that they are not paying attention to medical doctors and public health leaders does not speak well of Buckeye Society in 2021. Hardly genius. Maybe pragmatist. Part two: The lottery and casino commissions and their backers, racinos and casinos, respectively, no doubt flooded the Republican Legislative zone with donations to achieve the stalemate and split decision. It is not about what is in the public interest, but rather about what gets the most money into the right political pockets in 2021 Buckeye Society.

June Campaign Scorecard

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan remains my top Democratic pick for U.S. Senate. Insiders are saying that Republican frontrunner Josh Mandel is so despised that Ryan would thump him. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who is currently winning the self-promotion race with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, becomes my pick for governor as Lee Fisher, last month's pick, showed little interest. Ohio's most popular Democrat, Amy Acton (recently given the Profiles in Courage Award by the Kennedy Foundation), continues as my choice for lieutenant governor. Columbus city attorney Zach Klein is solid as my choice for attorney general and House minority leader Emilia Sykes equally so as secretary of state. I view Whaley and ex-State Rep. Connie Pillich as on equal footing for auditor.

I believe former U.S. Rep. Zack Space, who ran the closest, but losing race in 2018, is my top pick for treasurer.


-- The Columbus Crew became Columbus SC until the fans erupted and the owners turned it back into the Crew. The real reason for the rebranding was no more complicated than a brazen attempt to sell more merchandise to loyal officials who wanted to feel official as the new stadium opened, so as to line the heavily subsidized owners' pockets even more than the current obscene amount. Hardly a great moment in Columbus sports history.  

-- In a new low in self-promotion, the Dispatch ran a news article appealing for folks to come forward and become carrier route drivers. I guess the help wanted ads in the Dispatch weren't working.

-- Columbus Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown is on the short list for the appointment to the Franklin County board of commissioners, replacing Marilyn Brown, who resigned. She is U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's daughter. How can she miss? This would be the perfect stepping stone for her to run statewide someday. Maybe even for Daddy's seat in 2024.

-- An FBI special agent says the Ohio public corruption case entangling First Energy, State Rep. Larry Householder and others is in a "league of its own." Unfortunately, Ohio Republicans are in a league of their own when it comes to holding onto power in the face of multiple scandals.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,  

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