Tracy Sprinkle returned to the Ohio State University football team, suiting up for the first official practice of the season Monday in Columbus.
Sprinkle, a former Elyria High School standout, was kicked off the team last month following his arrest during a brawl outside of a Lorain bar July 5.
Sprinkle pleaded no contest to an amended misdemeanor of attempted failure to comply with a police order during a hearing in Lorain Municipal Court last week. The plea deal saw prosecutors drop additional charges of possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and riot.
Sprinkle was fined $500, given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and ordered to perform community service. Judge Mark Mink also told Sprinkle to stay out of bars.
Although Sprinkle practiced Monday, the defensive lineman won’t join the team on the field for Ohio State’s first game against the U.S. Naval Academy team later this month.
Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer said Sprinkle has been suspended for one game, lost his scholarship for the summer and must perform weekly service “and a multitude of other things to take care of business before he’ll ever see the field.”
Meyer also said that Sprinkle, who was a redshirt his freshman year, will have to earn his place on the team.
“He had a good day, but we’ll see,” he said of Sprinkle’s performance Monday.
Sprinkle was arrested outside the Grown & Sexy Lounge on East 28th Street after Lorain police were called to the bar about 2 a.m. July 5 because of a large fight both inside the establishment and in the parking lot.
A police report said officers saw Sprinkle and Wayne Blue being restrained by other bar patrons in the parking lot. Blue reportedly told police that Sprinkle had hit him in the face with a bottle, but denied that he had been trying to fight with Sprinkle after reaching his own plea agreement in Lorain Municipal Court last week.
Although Blue was arrested at the time, police let Sprinkle go and told him to leave. The football player was arrested later after police saw him arguing with someone else.
Lorain City Prosecutor Barry Motsch said during last week’s hearing that Sprinkle hadn’t been causing trouble for officers and was arrested because he hadn’t left when told to do so.
The drug charges stemmed from two small bags of cocaine found in the back seat of the police cruiser used to transport Sprinkle to the Lorain City Jail. Sprinkle’s lawyer, Mike Duff, has denied the drugs belonged to his client and pointed to multiple drug tests Sprinkle submitted to after he was released from jail as proof.
Those tests came back clean, Duff said.
Meyer said Monday the tests were an important factor in his decision to allow Sprinkle to return to the team.
“Tracy Sprinkle, he was dismissed because of an arrest and then some bad words were involved in that, like cocaine or something like that, and it was all dropped and he was drug tested with the hair thing, which goes back six months, and if any one shows up he was dismissed,” Meyer said during a news conference following practice Monday.
Meyer said the team did its own research before reinstating Sprinkle.
“I was shocked ’cause I’ve known Sprinkle for two, three years now,” Meyer said.