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Jan. 23, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State linebacker Joe Cooper has been granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Andy Geiger, Ohio State University director of athletics, made the announcement today, saying Cooper has met the criteria set forth in NCAA Rule 14.3.3.2, which states: A fourth season of intercollegiate competition shall be granted to a student-athlete with a diagnosed learning disability, providing that at the beginning of the fifth academic year following the student-athlete’s initial, full-time collegiate enrollment, the student-athlete has completed at least 75 percent of his or her designated degree program (adopted 1/12/99, effective 8/1/99).”

“I am very happy for Joe Cooper,” Jim Tressel, Ohio State head football coach, said. “I think it says a lot about Joe Cooper the person that he has put himself in position to receive his degree from this great institution. I know that when he walks across the stage to receive his diploma, it will be one of the most special days of his life.

“Of course I am happy, too, that Joe will be with us next year as one of our leaders, but the most important thing is that with the additional year of structure here, he will receive his degree.”

“I want to thank Ohio State, especially Mr. Geiger and the people in the Student-Athlete Support Services Office, for their help in this matter,” Cooper said. “I also want to thank my family for their continued support. They have been there for me every step of the way and I wouldn’t be here today without their love and understanding.

“My four years here have been four of the best years of my life and I am excited about the opportunity to receive my degree and play another year of football.”

Cooper, a criminology major, enrolled at Ohio State in the fall of 1997, but was not eligible to play that season. He has since played in 36-consecutive games, starting all 12 games this past season at linebacker.

Cooper finished the 2000 campaign with 80 tackles, the second highest total on the team. The Buckeye co-captain and co-Most Inspirational Player was named to the All-Big Ten team and landed a third-team spot on the Associated Press All-America team.