COMMENTARY | I was saddened Friday when I saw the Columbus Dispatch headline “Former OSU star Schlichter investigated for alleged sports ticket scheme.” The article alleges that Art Schlichter was soliciting people for money as an investment in a brokering opportunity involving tickets to Ohio State athletic events and more high-profile events such as Sunday’s Super Bowl in Dallas.
The new allegations against Schlichter involve dozens of people and millions of lost dollars. The unnamed sources also suggested that one of the most notorious compulsive gamblers in the country was using the money to make very large bets.
Between 1994 and 2006, Schlichter spent time in 44 different jails and prisons. The convictions were primarily for fraud and forgery after he wrote bad checks and swindled people out of money. Following his release in June 2006, HE spent time in a treatment program near Baltimore and was later invited to be part of the “Tunnel of Pride”, an Ohio State-Michigan game tradition following a benefit honoring former Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce.
Schlichter joined other former Ohio State players on the field prior to the game, forming a tunnel for the team to run through.
Mike Wagner of the Columbus Dispatch wrote a very poignant and candid article highlighting Art Schlichter’s career and downfall in December of that year.
I was a huge Buckeyes fan as a kid and remember watching the Gator Bowl when Schlichter threw the interception late in the game that brought the end of Woody Hayes’ coaching career. In December 1980, I was at Ohio State for an All-Star Band event. The Ohio Union was packed at lunchtime and I grabbed one of the few available seats in McDonald’s. I was such a shy, awkward teen it never occurred to me to actually speak to the star quarterback sitting right next to me.
Flash forward to 1991. As a sports writer with the Mount Vernon News, one of my jobs was to answer the phone as calls came in from area coaches reporting game results. More than once the conversation consisted of this:
“Sports, this is Debbie.”
“Hey Debbie, this is Art. Is Tom around?”
When I learned that it was the Art Schlichter calling, I related my tale of an almost-brush with greatness to the assistant sports editor. Tom had been friends with Art in high school at Miami Trace and they remained friends for years. Tom told me a few years later, after Schlichter began his prison tour that he finally had to stop taking the calls because Art was only calling to borrow money.
To date, Schlichter is still at the top of many Buckeyes records. He’s the only Ohio State quarterback to have ever had more than 400 yards passing in one game – 458 in 1981 versus Florida State. Art is at the top of the career passing charts with 7,547 yards. However, there is no mention of him in the Ohio State media guides or football game-day programs.
While Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien would not confirm nor deny any local investigation involving Schlichter, the former All-American football star did send a text message to a Dispatch reporter, confirming that he intends to speak with authorities.
“It will help a lot of people. This addiction is a [expletive].”
Debbie Henthorn has a love affair with her life-long home of central Ohio. Whether she’s being a cheerleader for locally owned business or shaking her head at political shenanigans, Debbie likes to share the good, the bad and the ugly about life in central Ohio.