Ohio State men's basketball: Departures won’t result in penalties

Improved APR means no loss of scholarships

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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The improvement in the Ohio State men’s basketball program’s Academic Progress Rate in recent years is expected to protect the program from any NCAA penalties regardless of whether LaQuinton Ross and Amedeo Della Valle finish their classes this semester.

Della Valle, who has signed a contract with a professional team in his native Italy, flew home yesterday for what he wrote on his Twitter account would be a “quick trip.” But an Italian media report said Della Valle could be returning home for good by April to join his new team, Reggio Emilia of Serie A, the country’s top professional league.

Della Valle’s contract is guaranteed for just less than $415,000 for five years, according to a report on Reggionline.com.

Meanwhile, no announcement was forthcoming yesterday regarding Ross’ decision whether to forgo his final year of eligibility and make himself available for the NBA draft.

His former coach at Life Center Academy (N.J.), Wilson Arroyo, said on Monday that Ross had made a decision, but Arroyo said yesterday that it won’t be announced until Friday.

Ross, Ohio State’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, has yet to inform coach Thad Matta of his decision, a source close to the program said.

In May 2009, the NCAA docked the program two scholarships for the next season because Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos withdrew from classes after making themselves available for the NBA draft, in April 2007 and ’08, respectively.

Della Valle and Ross remain enrolled, an athletic-department spokesman said, but it is not known whether either plans to withdraw before the end of the semester. Neither has responded to messages seeking comment. The spring semester ends in late April, more than a month earlier than spring quarter did when Oden and Koufos were enrolled.

Even if players would withdraw early now, the program is in a better position to absorb the hits than it was when Oden and Koufos left, said John Bruno, Ohio State’s faculty athletics representative.

When the program was sanctioned five years ago, Bruno said, its four-year APR average was below the 925-point threshold that triggered penalties. The program’s most-recent average, as of May 2013, was 972, well above the current threshold of 930.

“We’d be protected because (the average) is a far cry” from 2009, Bruno said. “They are above 930, so there should not be any issue. We would, however, lose valuable APR points” for this school year.

bbaptist@dispatch.com

@BBaptistHoops

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