Ohio State NCAA Violations: Who's to Blame In Terrelle Pryor, Tattoo Case?

Aaron GreenCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes rolls out of the pocket against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Add Ohio State to the list of schools found guilty of violating NCAA rules over the past year.

Amidst rumors of football players trading autographed memorabilia for tattoos, the NCAA announced today that five Buckeyes, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season "for selling awards, gifts and university apparel and receiving improper benefits in 2009."

In addition to Pryor, running back Dan Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams, receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas will each have to sit out games against Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), Colorado and Michigan State. However, all five players are eligible to compete in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, because they “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred,” according to the NCAA press release.

Based on the reports:

—Pryor sold his 2008 gold pants, given to him by the university after the 2008 victory against Michigan, his 2008 Big Ten Championship ring and his 2009 Sportsmanship award from the Fiesta Bowl.

—Herron sold his jersey, pants and shoes and accepted discounted services.

—Posey sold his championship ring and accepted discounted services.

—Adams sold his championship ring.

—Thomas sold both his championship ring and gold pants, and accepted discounted services.

As part of their reinstatement, the five Buckeyes are responsible for repaying the money they received from selling the awards and apparel, according to the release. Combined, the five must repay a total of  $7,405, with Pryor responsible for repaying the most, $2,500.

As far as I’m concerned, the players have no one to blame but themselves. They know the rules. They were educated about them long before they arrived on campus.

By allowing the five to play in the Sugar Bowl, it seems as if the NCAA is making excuses for them at the expense of the Ohio State athletic compliance department.

To claim that the players were inadequately educated about athletic compliance rules during the time period of the violations is fine if the violations were something with a lot of gray area, and without proper education the players could think they were doing no wrong. But how does an intercollegiate athlete, even without the so-called proper athletic-compliance education, think that selling awards they received for their on-field performance is ok?

I bet a sixth-grader understands that concept, and they likely don’t even know what the phrase “athletic compliance” even means. I had never heard the phrase until I was in college.

The Ohio State athletic compliance department shouldn’t be let off the hook, after all it claimed to be squeaky clean since the whole Maurice Clarrett saga and that appears to be in jeopardy—where there’s smoke there’s fire—but it shouldn’t take the fall for its athletes.

The department, the university and the NCAA are not helping its athletes by patting them on the back and saying “it’s not your fault completely, we should have made that part more clear—our bad. Now go have fun in New Orleans.”