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Morning Headlines: UA Football Program Hit With Sanctions; Four Killed in Weekend Gun Violence in Columbus

A panoramic view of InfoCision Stadium.
UA Athletics
The University of Akron’s football program has been hit with NCAA sanctions. A now-former associate director of athletics is accused of providing forbidden loans to nine players. The football program will be on probation for two years, pay a $5,000 fine, and must undergo an outside review of its athletics department.

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, August 23:

  • UA football program hit with sanctions
  • Four killed in weekend gun violence in Columbus
  • Ohio AG approves language in legal marijuana petition
  • FirstEnergy reports smaller lobbying contributions in 2021
  • Review: Former Columbus Zoo executives misspent $630K

UA football program hit with sanctions
(The Beacon Journal) -- The University of Akron’s football program has been hit with NCAA sanctions. The Beacon Journal reports a now-former associate director of athletics provided forbidden loans to nine players. The loans ranged from $100 to $1,000 each from a personal bank account. All players have agreed to repay the loans totaling nearly $6,000. The football program will be on probation for two years, pay a $5,000 fine, and must undergo an outside review of its athletics department, among other things. In a statement, the university said it will comply with the penalties, and said the associate, who has not been named, resigned as termination proceedings were underway. The school also says it’s hiring an administrator to directly oversee the compliance office.

Four killed in weekend gun violence in Columbus
(The Columbus Dispatch) – Gun violence in Columbus led to the deaths of four people over the weekend. The Columbus Dispatch reports the city is on track to surpass its record high of 175 homicides in 2020. As of Sunday, Columbus has recorded 135 homicides, a number not reached until late October last year.

Ohio AG approves language in legal marijuana petition
(AP) — The Ohio Attorney General's Office has approved summary language in a petition to legalize marijuana use and sales in the state. Attorney General Dave Yost determined that the summary is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed change to Ohio law. Yost rejected the first version of the summary language earlier this month, listing seven deficiencies in the petition filed by a group called Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Backers say it would allow anyone over 21 to buy marijuana like they do beer, wine, or liquor. The issue next goes to the Ohio Ballot Board. If it approves, supporters would need to collect about 133,000 valid signatures to put the measure before Ohio lawmakers. Lawmakers then would have four months to respond. If they don't pass the bill, another 133,000 signatures would allow supporters to put the measure directly in front of voters on a statewide ballot, which wouldn't be until next year.

FirstEnergy reports smaller lobbying contributions in 2021
(AP) — The energy giant at the center of a $60 million bribery scheme has dramatically decreased the amount of money it provides to dark money groups to influence public policy. That's according to a filing required by a deal with federal prosecutors that allowed Akron-based FirstEnergy to avoid a criminal case. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the company paid $2.2 million to nonprofits and groups benefitting public officials during the first half of 2021. That's considerably below the approximately $60 million the company paid between 2017 and 2020 to dark money groups to fund a bailout of two aging nuclear power plants.

Review: Former Columbus Zoo executives misspent $630K
(AP) — Trustees of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium say that financial abuses by four former executives cost the institution more than $630,000. A forensic analysis ordered by the zoo's board of trustees showed money from a zoo levy that pays for animal care was not involved. The review was ordered after a Columbus Dispatch investigation showed apparent improprieties by the zoo's then-chief executive and financial officers, including misuse of zoo properties and sports tickets. The review ordered by trustees found a marketing vice president and purchasing director also were involved. Trustees have pledged to take immediate action to restore public trust.