COLUMBUS, OH: Ohio State University is consulting longtime PR partner Edelman for advice on weathering a sexual abuse scandal and at least two class-action lawsuits, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Physician Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, is accused of abusing thousands of male students, including former wrestlers at the university. Ohio State University announced it was investigating the matter in April.
"Edelman has consulted with the university throughout the years on a number of different matters, both internal and external," a representative from Ohio State said.
An Edelman spokesperson said the firm doesn’t discuss its client work.
A source familiar with Edelman and Ohio State’s relationship said it goes back years. From time to time, Ohio State consults with Edelman, but the agency is not on the campus, nor does the school remain in daily, or even weekly, contact with the firm.
The school’s in-house team is handling the day-to-day media work in relation to this matter, the source said.
Former wrestlers filed two class-action lawsuits against the school this week, according to The Columbus Dispatch. They claim Ohio State failed to prevent repeated sexual assaults, abuse, and molestation, which amounts to Title IX and civil rights violations.
One of the lawsuits implicates Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994. Jordan, a founder of the Freedom Caucus, has denied the allegations.
Previously, Edelman handled corporate comms, media relations, and stakeholder engagement support for Pennsylvania State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal for $2.5 million.
Since then, Edelman has won work for Missouri University following campus unrest incited by hate speech incidents, for which it was paid $250,000 to $350,000. Also, the University of North Carolina enlisted Edelman after a report revealed athletes took fake classes with artificially high grades, netting the firm $1.7 million.