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Five Ohio State Buckeyes suspended for start of 2011 season

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes will sit out the first five games of the 2011 season the school announced Thursday afternoon. Pryor, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey,Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas were found to be guilty of selling a variety of items including Big Ten championship rings, jerseys, Gold Pants (a gold charm awarded to Ohio State players after victories against Michigan) and more.

Those five players will not only sit out the start of the 2011 season but also must repay the amount they sold the items for in the range between $1,000 to $2,500 to a charitable organization. “These are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. Ohio State is not currently at risk of any penalties charged to the school or athletic department other than what the players are being punished with.

Earlier in the week it was rumored that Ohio State players had been receiving tattoos for free in exchange for autographs while preparing for the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Those rumors seem to have dissipated now that this news has been confirmed. All players involved in this NCAA rules violation situation for Ohio State are still ruled eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation. In addition, there must not be any competitive advantage related to the violations, and the student-athletes must have eligibility remaining.
The policy for suspending withholding conditions for bowl games or NCAA championship competition recognizes the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season, and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective. In this instance, the facts are consistent with the established policy, Lennon said.

– Via Ohio State University release, December 23, 2010

Ohio State’s 2011 schedule opens with two games against on-state opponents Akron and Toledo. Ohio State has never lost to an in-state opponent at home. The third week of the season the Buckeyes make a trip to Miami to take on the Hurricanes in the second half of a home-and-home series. Ohio State then returns for two more home games before the players are slated to return to the lineup. Those games will be against Colorado and co-Big Ten champion Michigan State.

Pryor started every game for the Buckeyes in 2010 and passed for 2,551 yards and 25 touchdowns to help Ohio State win a share of the Big Ten football championship. The former prized recruit out of Pennsylvania has had his fair share of ups and downs both on and off the field. Comments in support of current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mike Vick came across in poor form last season and recent comments about being in an offensive system similar to Denard Robinson (Michigan) and Cam Newton (Auburn) and how he would be a dominant player were also worthy of raising an eye brow or two.

Herron was Ohio State’s leading rusher this season with 1,068 yards and a team leading 15 rushing touchdowns. Posey was second on the team in receiving with 778 yards (Dane Sanzenbacher led the Buckeyes with 889 yards), and six touchdowns. Pryor, Herron and Posey are slated to be the Buckeyes’ leading offensive players returning next season.

But what if these players decide to take a chance in the NFL Draft?

All five players to be suspended for practicially the first half of the 2011 season are juniors and most of, if not all, of them are expected to return for their senior seasons. Should any of them leave Ohio State would technically get away without any kind of punishment.

Ohio State plans to file an appeal to the suspensions handed down by the NCAA.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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