Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Boom Herron, Michael Adams and Solomon Thomas were all suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, while Jordan Whiting will be suspended for the 2011 home opener, all for reported NCAA rules violations.
The suspended Buckeyes all committed several violations, including the selling of championship rings, jerseys and awards and receiving improper benefits.
- Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.
- Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
- Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.
- Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
- Solomon must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.
- Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game next year and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted because of his status as a student-athlete.
Rumors began circulating three days ago that several Buckeyes players received tattoos in exchange for autographs. While none of the speculation was substantiated at the time, it did appear as though the university had begun an internal investigation to discover if there were any improprieties regarding the tattoos and the use of autographs or any other university paraphernalia that had been given in exchange for the ink.
So what really went down?
According to early reports, a local tattoo parlor was recently raided by the IRS for a tax-related probe. During the raid, several artifacts from the Ohio State football team, signed by several Buckeyes, were discovered and then reported to university officials, which prompted the internal investigation. Ohio State likely then disclosed the discovery to the NCAA rules committee.
The violations apparently occurred in 2009, even though they weren't allegedly discovered until earlier this week.
It does seem a bit strange to me that the NCAA would come down with these violations in only three days, so there is a strong possibility that the timeline is off.
Did the NCAA and/or Ohio State know about the violations long before the IRS raid?
What is known, is that the Buckeyes were suspended for four games for the violations and a fifth game for not immediately reporting the violations once they realized they were against NCAA policy.
There's a lot that's hokey about all of this. If the NCAA and Ohio State did know about this prior to this week, why weren't suspensions levied earlier? If the NCAA and Ohio State did know about this prior to this week, or if they just found out, why aren't the five players suspended for the upcoming Sugar Bowl?
The NCAA stated that the players weren't properly educated on the violations and that the NCAA didn't want to withhold a "unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season."
In other words, NCAA players aren't allowed to earn any sort of money or receive any sort of service for their talents while performing at an NCAA-sanctioned university; however, the NCAA will bank as much as it can, whenever it can. The NCAA's hypocrisy knows no bounds.
So what does this mean for the Buckeyes' future? Obviously, it likely will affect the Buckeyes with regards to their upcoming Sugar Bowl game with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Is the suspension too severe for the crime?
There's no doubt that the bulk of any discussion regarding the game will be about the suspensions, as well as likely discussing whether or not any of the incoming freshmen will honor their commitments, and if the suspended players will come back to play or declare for the pros.
Will this galvanize the Buckeyes, as it did for Auburn this year while living under the shroud of the NCAA, or will it cripple them? It's hard to tell.
It will be interesting to see how the violations will affect the Buckeyes' current recruiting situation. The Bucks currently have a top five recruiting class after recently "stealing" top pick Ryan Shazier. They were also in play for a couple of 5-star recruits who will likely make their choices within the next month, leading up to signing day.
Will the Buckeyes lose recruits that have already signed because of the allegations, and will they lose the potential recruits that were planning on heading to Columbus? While the answer is likely no to both questions, you just never know what could happen. If one recruit leaves, it could start a landslide.
Next year, the consequences are obvious. The Buckeyes, returning much of their current team, will likely be considered a national title contender. Without their starting QB, RB, WR and LT for the first five games of the season, that likely will cast a shadow of doubt on the season.
Will any of the seniors be back, or will they head off into the NFL sunset? Would the Buckeyes be better off without the seniors than having to live with an offseason of questions regarding Ink-gate?
The Buckeyes will have some challenging tests in next year's first five ball games. The Buckeyes open up the season with Akron and Toledo before they take their talents down to South Beach in game two of the home-and-home series with the Hurricanes.
While Miami will be entertaining the Buckeyes with a new coach, a new offense and a new philosophy, they return most of their 2010 starters. No doubt Al Golden will have the Hurricanes frothing at the mouth.
After a matchup at home against Colorado, the Buckeyes welcome Michigan St. to Columbus. The Spartans will also be returning several starters from this year's one-loss team. The Buckeyes' sixth game next season is with Nebraska, welcoming the Cornhuskers to Big Ten play. Not a good team to try to meld starters back into the lineup.
At the end of the day, the Buckeyes involved should be smacked upside the head by Jim Tressel and the coaching staff for being idiots. The NCAA saying they weren't "educated" enough in these matters is utterly ridiculous. I know the rules, and I haven't been an NCAA athlete in 20 years, and it was always fairly clear what the rules are.
If you're a starting player at THE Ohio State University, you know the rules. These idiots just thought they could get one past the NCAA. While the punishments are far too severe, you really do reap what you sow.
In the end, these types of violations will bring out what's bad in college athletics. The NCAA continues to be a joke with their idiotic rules, no variances and their shrouded attempts to hide their moneymaking bureaucracy. The student athletes continue to show off their ineptitude at following the basic NCAA laws. Perhaps it's truly not a bonus to sign a 5-star recruit.
Ohio State as a university finishes somewhere in the middle of both. No school pumps more money into a football program than the Buckeyes. When you look at the money these kids made selling their gear and the amount of money the "free gifts" received were, it really does seem inconsequential. The Buckeyes spend over $30 million on their program every year and make much, much more each season.
Still, rules are the rules, and now the Buckeyes have to face the music. More on the implications over the next few months as the dominoes begin to fall in the aftermath of Ink-gate, 2010.