COLUMBUS – Ohio State transfer linebacker Palaie Gaoteote will not be on the field this season after the NCAA finally denied his waiver request for immediate eligibility.
“Yeah, as of right now, we got word that he got denied,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said on Thursday, breaking the news. “So we’re going to try to figure out what’s next. He’s very, very disappointed that he wasn’t granted an opportunity to play this season, so we’ll kind of regroup and see what’s next here.”
Gaoteote, who played his first three years at USC, entered the transfer portal midseason last year in hopes of finding a spot to play in 2021. This past spring, the NCAA implemented a one-time transfer exemption to first-time transfers, allowing those players to have immediate eligibility if they met certain requirements.
That exemption clearly did not apply to the Buckeyes’ newest linebacker.
“Really, just what I know is that it was denied,” Day explained. “We’re going to look back into it and see if there possibly could be some sort of appeal or not. But we’re trying to put a plan together for what’s next for him.”
For now, Gaoteote will remain on the team. Because last year didn’t count in terms of eligibility, this year can be considered a redshirt year for him and he would still have two years of eligibility remaining.
It has been a long road to Columbus for the former Trojan. Gaoteote played in 10 games as a true freshman, starting five of them. He finished with 38 tackles and two sacks, frequently looking like the former five-star prospect he was. He missed two games that year due to a preseason knee cartilage surgery. He then only played in eight games as a sophomore due to a sprained ankle that nagged him throughout the season.
As a junior, he suffered a concussion in the second game of the season. He sat out the next two games and then entered the transfer portal.