COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes were suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of next season for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards, and receiving improper benefits from a tattoo parlor. All can still play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.
Along with Pryor, running back Daniel Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas must sit out and repay between $1,000 to $2,500 to charity.
Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 gold pants, a trinket given to players who are a part of a team which beats rival Michigan.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the school will appeal the suspensions.
“While we believe sanctions should be rendered, we do believe they are severe,” he said Thursday at a news conference. “We do believe we can give mitigating circumstances for the NCAA to consider.”
The NCAA did not suspend the players for Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl against the eighth-ranked Razorbacks because the “student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred.”
“These are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university,” Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said in the release.
Lennon said a game was added on to the usual four-game penalty “because these student-athletes did not immediately disclose the violations when presented with the appropriate rules education.”
Ohio State’s first five games next season are: Akron, Toledo, at Miami, Colorado, and Michigan State.
Pryor is the team’s star, while Herron is the leading rusher and Posey is the second-leading receiver. Adams is a starter at left tackle and Thomas a top sub on the defensive line. All are juniors, skilled enough to at least consider skipping their abbreviated senior seasons and trying to play professionally.
Coach Jim Tressel said at least one of the players had filed paperwork to have his NFL draft status assessed, but didn’t not specify which.
A sixth player, freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted by the tattoo artist because he was a Buckeyes player.
“We as coaches feel the buck stops here,” Tressel said. “We’re the ones who need to make things even more crystal clear.”
Smith said Ohio State was not “explicit” in instructing players about the sale of apparel, awards and gifts.
Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discount services worth $150.
Posey sold his 2008 Big Ten ring for $1,200 and also received discount services.