Massage Therapist Robyn Bassani Denies Targeting Ohio State Football Players for Sex

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2021

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2007, file photo, Ohio State football fans get ready for Ohio Stadium's 500th football game, against Northwestern,  in Columbus, Ohio. The Associated Press has been ranking the best teams in college football for the last 80 seasons. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File

Massage therapist Robyn Bassani denied the allegations she is facing following an investigation into her treatment of Ohio State football players.

On Thursday, Ohio State released a statement saying the State Medical Board of Ohio "investigated an independent massage therapist who engaged in inappropriate and exploitative behavior targeting members of the Ohio State football team." The statement said the medical board had revoked Bassani's license permanently.

The school launched an independent investigation through Barnes & Thornburg. That investigation determined "no university or athletic department staff had knowledge of the massage therapist's activities" and that there were no NCAA violations, though the results were shared with the NCAA.

Natasha Anderson of Fox 8 reported the complaint that was filed to the state medical board alleged Bassani, 41, "offered free massages to the members of the football team, used those massages as a means to initiate sexual interactions with some of the student-athletes, and then demanded payment."

Bassani spoke with 10TV in Columbus, Ohio, and said she did have sexual relationships with players but that she did not initiate them.

"I've read several reports that I targeted them for sexual gratification, that I approached them, manipulated them," she said.

"They're college kids. First of all, I wouldn't need to manipulate them with a massage. Secondly, I work with professional athletes in the Cleveland area—this is what I do, not sexual misconduct. Not sexual innuendos. It's blown wildly out of proportion, to keep the university's hands clean."

Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch noted Bassani also spoke to Cleveland's 100.7 WMMS and said she had sexual relations with two players and not five, which was the number in the school's report.

She also said she surrendered her license in March after 12 years as a professional masseuse because she believed that would help the situation disappear:

"I was told by the investigator for the Ohio State Board that if I didn't [surrender my license], then I would be subject to a citation and then a hearing in which the players would be individually subpoenaed to testify in open public record. Not wanting to put them through that, I said, 'OK, I’ll surrender it.'
"[They] had assured me if I do this quietly and quickly then I could spare them the scandal or public embarrassment and I did. Obviously, that was a lie."

The investigators from Barnes & Thornburg spoke to 117 former and current players, 44 coaches and staff members, and Bassani.