Alex Anzalone, a linebacker from Wyomissing, Pa., who had committed to Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class, decommitted tonight after learning that an OSU fan he encountered in Columbus two weeks ago is a registered sex offender.
Anzalone was vague about exactly why he decommitted, but his father made it clear it was partly related to the encounter with Ohio State fan Charles Eric Waugh of Ashland, Ky., the weekend of the spring game.
Waugh, 31, who pled guilty in 2008 to possession of materials portraying sexual performances by minors and is on the Kentucky sex-offender registry, had his picture taken with Anzalone and two other recruits. The photo later appeared online.
“I had to do what is best for me and my family,” Anzalone texted to The Dispatch. Asked whether the encounter with Waugh played a role in his decision, he responded: “Somewhat (but) not the main reasons.” When pressed further, he responded: “I don’t wanna say. Sorry.”
His father, Sal, was more specific in an interview with the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania. He said that Alex started expressing concerns about Ohio State after returning, and the tipping point was when they saw the photo online. It made Sal question how well his son was supervised during the visit.
“You don’t want your son to go to a place where there’s a potential issue (like this),” Sal Anzalone said. “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.”
Today, Ohio State officials emailed and texted current and prospective student-athletes and advised them to block Waugh on social-media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The email included a link to a 2008 newspaper article when Waugh pleaded guilty.
An athletic-department spokesman said Waugh is not associated with Ohio State or the athletic department, and because of that, there is no potential NCAA rules violation.
“Oho State will continue to monitor this issue, and it will remain proactive with its efforts in regard to precautions taken on behalf of its student-athletes,” the spokesman said.
In the same photo with Anzalone was defensive-line recruit Joey Bosa of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He said that Waugh had contacted him on Twitter but that he was not reconsidering his commitment.
Anzalone and Bosa committed to Ohio State and first-year coach Urban Meyer in the days after the spring game, along with defensive end/linebacker Lewis Neal of Wilson, N.C. Wilson has since decommitted, too, but because he later received an offer from LSU.
Anzalone was highly recruited before he selected the Buckeyes, and now he can consider offers from more than 30 schools, including Penn State, Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame.
Sal Anzalone said he did not believe that Meyer or his staff was aware of Waugh, but the father was still upset.
“Of course,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be? I’m outraged.”