In this April 23, 2011, file photo, then-Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, right, looks out on the field as he stands with his team before an NCAA college football Spring Game in Columbus, Ohio.
In this April 23, 2011, file photo, Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith, left, chats with then-head football coach Jim Tressel, right, before an NCAA college football Spring Game, in Columbus, Ohio.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) —
Ohio State players broke the rules and got to play in the Sugar Bowl
anyway. Jim Tressel knew about infractions and let it all happen.
Now the Buckeyes and new coach Urban Meyer will pay for it next season.
NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and additional penalties
Tuesday for violations that started with eight players taking a total of
$14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other
Tressel was tipped to the violations in
April 2010 but didn't tell anyone — even after the athletes got caught
last December but were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl against
Arkansas if they served suspensions to start the 2011 season. Among
those in the group: starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and leading
rusher Daniel "Boom" Herron.
Tressel's silence damaged Ohio State
in the eyes of the NCAA and the result is that the Buckeyes, with a plum
2012 schedule and perhaps college football's best coach in Meyer, will watch next year's bowl games on TV.
we known what (Tressel) knew, we would not have played those young men
in that bowl game," said an emotional Gene Smith, Ohio State's athletic
Forced out in May and now on the staff of the
Indianapolis Colts, Tressel was called out by the NCAA for unethical
conduct and will have a hard time coaching at the college level again.
not going to appeal. He accepts the committee's decision. That's all
there is to say," said Gene March, an attorney for Tressel.
university had previously offered to vacate the 2010 season, return bowl
money, go on two years of NCAA probation and use five fewer football
scholarships over the next three years.
But the NCAA countered with the postseason ban, more limitations on scholarships and tacked on a year of probation.
is still my goal to hire excellent coaches, recruit great
student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and to win on and
off the field," Meyer said in a statement.
"The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience
does not include the behavior that led to these penalties."
State might still have escaped more severe penalties had its problems
stopped with the original scandal, which grew out of players'
relationship with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner named Eddie Rife who
was under federal investigation in a drug-trafficking case.
the school and the NCAA discovered two additional problems — after Ohio
State went before the committee on infractions in August.
players were suspended just before the start of the season for accepting
$200 from booster Bobby DiGeronimo. Then midway through the Buckeyes'
6-6 season it was revealed that several players had been paid too much
for too little work on summer jobs — supplied by the same booster. He
has been disassociated from the program.
The NCAA on Tuesday found Ohio State failed to monitor its athletic programs.
was all a sobering blow to Ohio State and to Smith, who through the
lengthy NCAA investigation had maintained there was no way the Buckeyes
would be banned from a bowl game after the 2012 season. He also had
refused to surrender a bowl invitation this season in order to save next
"I never went there because we were confident we would not get a bowl-game ban," Smith said. "We were wrong."
shocking as the Ohio State case was when it broke, it has since been
overshadowed by three other scandals in college sports. Former Penn
State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than
50 criminal counts related to child sex abuse, an ex-Syracuse
basketball assistant coach was fired after being accused of fondling
boys and young men, and a University of Miami booster caught
masterminding a Ponzi scheme claimed he provided money, cars and even
prostitutes to Hurricanes athletes.
Tressel, who guided Ohio State
to its first national championship in 34 years after the 2002 season,
was pressured to resign after 10 years with the Buckeyes. The NCAA hit
him with a five-year "show-cause" order which all but prevents him from
being a college coach during that time.
"Of great concern to the
committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these
violations and decided not to report the violations," the NCAA Division I
Committee on Infractions wrote in its report.
associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and a committee
member, said in a teleconference that Tressel's failure to act was,
"considered very serious and, frankly, very disappointing."
show-cause order, any school that hired Tressel would have to present
its case for why it needed to employ him, and would risk severe
penalties if he were to commit any further infractions after that.
NCAA also issued a public reprimand and censure, put the Buckeyes on
probation through Dec. 19, 2014, and reduced football scholarships from
85 to 82 through the 2014-15 academic year.
The Buckeyes are preparing to play Meyer's former team, Florida, in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. Meyer,
a two-time national title winner with the Gators was hired to much
acclaim on Nov. 28 and has built a solid recruiting class despite the
ongoing NCAA problems.
But a bowl ban could affect those verbal
commitments. Even if not, next year's Ohio State team will lose the
extra practices allotted before a bowl game.
Herron, Ohio State's
starting tailback, was suspended not only for accepting improper
benefits from the tattoo-shop owner but also in his summer job. He was
voted the team's MVP.
Asked if he felt burdened by the NCAA
sanctions, the senior said, "Of course. It hasn't been easy the
situation we went through. We all definitely learned from it. We moved
forward from it."
Other players said the Buckeyes could follow the
example of Southern California, which received even more stringent NCAA
sanctions but went 10-2 this season despite not being able to play in a
In light of the many problems in college athletics
grabbing headlines these days, Sankey was asked if the NCAA was trying
to send a message with the bowl ban against Ohio State.
not suggest that this is necessarily a new day," Sankey said. "But these
penalties are significant and that's part of the committee's role in
both finding violations and then assessing penalties."