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December 20, 2011

Buckeyes get bowl ban with Failure to Monitor

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Talking about the findings with Kevin Noon on Yahoo! Sports Radio

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It has almost been a year to the day since it was learned that the Ohio State Buckeyes were under NCAA investigation, and on Tuesday the dark saga finally came to an end as the NCAA Committee on Infractions handed down its ruling.

Athletic Director Gene Smith and the Buckeyes learned they will have a bowl ban for the 2012 season (which includes participation in the Big Ten Championship game), be docked nine scholarships over the next three years (Ohio State will be capped at 82 total scholarships for the next three seasons) and will be on three years of probation starting immediately and running through December 19, 2014.

There had been hopes that Ohio State would not receive the bowl ban after cooperating with the NCAA and upon past precedent. Of course it brings into question the decision not to self-impose a bowl ban for the 2011 season, a year that the Buckeyes went 6-6 and are playing in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012.

Ohio State was hit with four major findings that included Failure to Monitor, Preferential Treatment (of student athletes), Unethical Conduct and Impermissible Benefits.

"We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision," Smith said in a statement released by the university. ""However, we have decided not to appeal the decision because we need to move forward as an institution. We recognize that this is a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics. Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground, and Ohio State embraces its leadership responsibilities and affirms its long-standing commitment to excellence in education and integrity in all it does."

NCAA Committee on Infractions spokesman Greg Sankey would not speculate on hypotheticals if Ohio State would have imposed a bowl ban for the current season. Multiple Ohio State players expressed shock and disappointment via social media outlets over the punishments to the Buckeye program.

The NCAA report totaled 34 pages and encompassed the entire case levied against Ohio State during the process, a process that started in December of 2010.

"Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations to institutional officials, the Big Ten Conference or the NCAA," the NCAA report said.

"The former head coach failed to report the information to athletics administrators at that time, and had several other subsequent opportunities to report this information, but chose not to," the report continued. "The former head coach's failure to report this information violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation."

Also included in the penalty will be a five-year show-cause handed down against former head coach Jim Tressel for his role in the infractions. In addition, if Tressel were to be hired by any school, he would have to miss the first five games of the season (stemming from a suspension that was never served prior to his departure from Ohio State) as well as a postseason ban for that first year.

The penalty would follow Tressel if he was named as coach at any other NCAA member institution, but it would not, in essence, prevent him from being hired. However, it would seriously impact his ability to fulfill his duties in regards to recruiting and other aspects.

"The committee found that the former head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct standards when he failed to report his knowledge of NCAA violations and in doing so, permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition while ineligible during the 2010 season," the report said about Tressel.

The Buckeyes had self imposed penalties that included two years of probation, the loss of five scholarships over the span of three years, vacating the 2010 season (including the Sugar Bowl, a game that the NCAA had officially reinstated the offending players for), the return of Ohio State's Sugar Bowl financial earnings ($338,811) and a five-year disassociation between Ohio State and former quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The NCAA decided the penalties were a step in the right direction but ultimately levied more penalties, especially after new charges were brought against the university after the self-imposed penalties were announced and executed.

The decision was pushed back into December after it was discovered that a former booster, Bobby DiGeronimo, had extended improper benefits to several current Ohio State players. The players were suspended and DiGeronimo was permanently disassociated from Ohio State.

The Ohio State football program also will have to serve a five-year period during which additional infractions would allow the NCAA to enforce the Repeat Offender status, which historically leads to much more severe penalties.

The scandal and near year long process cast a heavy shadow over the Ohio State program and ultimately led to the loss of some recruits directly and indirectly as rumors ran wild that Ohio State would be hit harder than other schools that recently went up against the NCAA. The dismissal/retirement of Tressel and the uncertainty of the future of the program saw several players decide to look elsewhere. The hiring of Urban Meyer has brought a couple of aforementioned recruits back into the fold, but the damage has been done for the class of 2012.

Meyer released a statement through the university on Tuesday afternoon and is obviously disappointed with the findings but agrees that it is time to come together and move forward.

"I agreed to become the Head Football Coach at The Ohio State University because Shelley and I are Ohio natives, I am a graduate of this wonderful institution and served in this program under a great coach," Meyer said in a statement. "I understand the academic and athletic traditions here and will give great effort to continue those traditions.

"It is still my goal to hire excellent coaches, recruit great student-athletes who want to be a part of this program and to win on and off the field. The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties. I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation."

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