April 22, 2000
COLUMBUS, Ohio-Ken Johnson, a center on the Ohio State men’s basketball team, has been granted an additional year of eligibility to play men’s basketball at Ohio State by the NCAA, Andy Geiger, Ohio State director of athletics, announced today.
Citing NCAA Rule 18.104.22.168, Ohio State asked for and received the fourth year of collegiate eligibility for Johnson.
The rule states: “A fourth season of intercollegiate competition shall be granted to a student-athlete with a diagnosed learning disability, provided 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).”
“Ken has met the eligibility requirements of Ohio State University, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA,” Geiger said. “This is no doubt great news for Ohio State basketball. It is even better news for Ken Johnson.”
Johnson said the opportunity to return to Ohio State and work toward his degree in art was the single most important and positive aspect of the NCAA ruling, received late Friday evening by Ohio State.
“I am totally overwhelmed and excited that I have the opportunity to come back and further my education,” Johnson said. “I will have the opportunity to get bigger and stronger as well.
“I get to play another year,” he said. “I get that much closer to graduation. This is nothing but a positive thing for me. It’s all about graduation. I felt that if I left this year I would not come back to graduate. School is first. I weighed all my options. I saw so many extra benefits to staying at Ohio State.”
Johnson, projected by some as a first round NBA draft choice, could have opted to work out for NBA scouts this spring but decided to bypass those opportunities to await the NCAA ruling. Jim O’Brien, Ohio State men’s basketball coach, credited Johnson for wanting to work toward his degree and forgo professional opportunities.
“Needless to say we are ecstatic about this news,” O’Brien said. “It does my heart good to hear him say how much he wants to come back. This is a home run for Ken for a variety of reasons.”
Johnson has played for three seasons on the men’s basketball team after sitting out his first year in Columbus because he did not qualify academically to participate as a freshman.
He led the nation in blocked shots last season with 161, an average of 5.37 blocks per game. That average ranks fifth all-time in NCAA history for a single season. His season total was both an Ohio State and Big Ten record for rejections in a season. His efforts on the court earned him the 2000 Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year Award and a spot on the all-Big Ten Second Team.
Johnson has 319 career blocks in three seasons at Ohio State. He is second all-time at OSU, nine behind Herb Williams (1978-81), who completed his four-year career with 328. Johnson ranks No. 5 all time in Big Ten history.