Ohio State Players, Including Terrelle Pryor, Suspended

Perhaps the NCAA officials who came up with the punishment for the Ohio State football players had selected the Buckeyes in their bowl pick ’em contests.

That’s as good an explanation as any for why quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams, and reserve defensive end Solomon Thomas have been suspended for the first five games of next season but not the January 4 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

The players were punished for selling championship rings, jerseys, and other awards, in addition to receiving free or discounted tattoos at a Columbus tattoo parlor. Pryor netted $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award, and, perhaps worst of all, his 2008 “gold pants,” awarded to Ohio State players who beat Michigan. The other players received between $1,000 and $1,505 each.

While Auburn’s Cam Newton avoided any sort of punishment by passing the blame to his father, the Ohio State players avoided additional penalties by saying they didn’t know the rules. The statement from the NCAA said that the players were not suspended for the bowl game because they “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred.”

If that doesn’t make you scratch your head, well, you’re probably an NCAA employee. If the punishment for the crime is five games, why would it skip over the team’s next game?

Ohio State should probably go ahead and suspend the players for the bowl game. Instead, the university will appeal the suspensions handed out by the NCAA. Athletic director Gene Smith said he thinks the sentence should be reduced because the players were using the money to help support their families. I’m still waiting for Smith to tell us how free tattoos helped the families.

It’s possible Pryor sold this as well. (Credit: Michael Tolzmann)

At the heart of the problem in this case, the Newton scandal, and others like them, is the NCAA rulebook. It is arcane and riddled with loopholes. This holiday season seems like the perfect time to toss the book in a fireplace and start new. This is 2010: The off-field landscape looks a lot different than it once did. There are many more millions of dollars to be made if schools have successful athletics programs.

Clearly the current rulebook isn’t cutting it, and this year’s college football season alone has affirmed that. If the NCAA policy allows players to participate in championship or bowl games if they “were not aware they were committing violations,” then why punish them at all? They are basically saying some penalties warrant suspensions, so long as the games missed aren’t important.

To the NCAA, Coach Tressel, or anyone with the power to take action, I say: Don’t let these players participate in the Sugar Bowl. Then again, I picked Ohio State in my bowl challenge, too.

4 thoughts on “Ohio State Players, Including Terrelle Pryor, Suspended”

  1. Though i love that this happened to Ohio State, personally, I don't see why players shouldn't be allowed to sell their personal property. And the prevalence of these violations across college sports seems to reinforce the idea that most players are receiving some form of compensation, only some are caught.

  2. I agree that players should be able to sell their jerseys and other items because they earned them. In addition, there is too much money associated with college football for the players to feel like a free education is a good deal.I know nothing about the NCAA process for determining punishments but I agree that their outcomes are horrible. Ohio State players should be suspended for the Sugar Bowl and Cam Newton should have been suspended for the SEC title game, which punishes the player, the school, the conference, and the NCAA. I think the NCAA, conferences, and corresponding schools are using their pocketbooks instead of their rulebooks (and common sense) to determine punishments. For example, the SEC has a lot to gain by having an undefeated Auburn play in the BCS championship because then the Sugar Bowl is able to select a second SEC team, Arkansas. Similarly, the Sugar Bowl's sponsors are going to want to pay less for ad space and time if it is projected that Arkansas will blow out Ohio State because some of its star players are suspended. The NFL seems to determine punishments based on how badly the league's brand has been affected in the long term because sponsors want/need the brand to be strong. On the other hand, the NCAA, conferences, and schools seem to care less about their brands in the long term and more about their pocketbooks in the short term.

  3. I can't say I agree that players should be allowed to sell this sort of stuff. It could create a situation where star players are given more items — jerseys, awards, etc. — so they could make more money. Recruits could even be promised these things.The school HAS to make the players aware of this though, and it seems like OSU wasn't very clear in doing so.

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