Ohio State issued an official response Friday to NCAA violations committed by five football players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and by former coach Jim Tressel.
In addition to vacating all of its wins from last season, including its victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, the university has placed the football program on two years probation. Ohio State also reversed course with Tressel, agreeing to change his resignation to a retirement. Buckeyes school administrators also waived the $250,000 fine levied against Tressel.
Five Ohio State football players, including Pryor, were cited for trading autographs and memorabilia for cash and tattoos. Tressel learned of the infractions, but kept quiet for months, alerting only an associate of Pryor. Ohio State will appear before the NCAA infractions committee on August 12.
But will Ohio State’s self-imposed sanctions be enough? The NCAA came down hard on USC for its numerous infractions, taking away 30 scholarships over the next three seasons, slapping the Trojans with a two-year bowl ban and putting the program on four years probation.
Critics will scream, if they haven’t already, that Ohio State hasn’t done enough. The university didn’t take away scholarships or ban the program from next season’s bowl game.
An argument can be made that the problems aren’t an institutional issue, but just an isolated incident that involved only the five players and Tressel. At least that's what Ohio State is hoping the NCAA believes.
There are two problems with that argument. Tressel knowingly played five ineligible players. And Ohio State permitted the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl despite the fact the scandal had come to light.
Ineligible athletes playing has always been a big no-no with the NCAA. The fact that Tressel knew these athletes had received improper benefits and made no attempt to inform the proper officials makes it even worse.
The NCAA isn't expected to announce anything until mid September. If the college governing body holds Ohio State to the same standard it did USC, rest assured the problems for the Buckeyes football program are just beginning.