Ohio State football players sanctioned
Updated: December 23, 2010, 12:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Five Ohio State football players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, must sit out the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits, the NCAA ruled Thursday.
A sixth football player must sit out the first game in 2011 for receiving discounted services in violation of NCAA rules.
All of the players be eligible for the Jan. 4 Allstate Sugar Bowl, however.
Five players were found to have sold awards, gifts and university apparel, plus receive improper benefits in 2009. In addition to missing five games next season, Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey and Solomon Thomas must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity.
Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game next year and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted because of his status as a student-athlete.
The NCAA announced the suspensions Thursday, shortly before Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and coach Jim Tressel were to meet with reporters to discuss the university's investigation of players trading autographs for tattoos.
Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring and Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50, while Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.
Solomon must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.
"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 a statement released by the NCAA.
The players are eligible for the bowl game because the NCAA determined they did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said.
"We were not as explicit with our student-athlete education as we should have been in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years regarding the sale of apparel, awards and gifts issued by the athletics department," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. "We began to significantly improve our education in November of 2009 to address these issues. After going through this experience, we will further enhance our education for all our student-athletes as we move forward."
Pryor, Herron and Posey are all eligible for the NFL draft in 2011.
Ohio State has been investigating allegations that several football players traded autographs for tattoos. Rumors first surfaced last Saturday. Athletic department officials, including Smith and Ohio State's compliance director had refrained from addressing the allegations.
On Twitter on Wednesday night, Pryor posted, "I paid for my tattoos. GoBucks"
Pryor's high school coach, Ray Reitz, told ESPN's Joe Schad that said Pryor sold items because "he wanted to help his mother."
"It was about family," Reitz said. "Sometimes when you're young you don't realize the ramifications."