COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - 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 receving improper benefits. 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.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith called the sanctions severe and 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 said it did not suspended the players for Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl against No. 8 Arkansas 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 of the NCAA said in its release.
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.
A sixth player, 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 because he was a Buckeye player.
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 and Herron, the team's top back, must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discount services worth $150.
Posy sold his 2008 Big Ten ring for $1,200 and also received discount services, while Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his Big Ten 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 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"COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State is investigating allegations that several football players traded autographs for tattoos, according to multiple reports.
WBNS-TV and The Columbus Dispatch, both citing unidentified sources, reported on their websites Wednesday night that the school was looking into the possible NCAA violations just two weeks before the Buckeyes face Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, not mentioned in either report, quickly responded on Twitter.
"I paid for my tattoos. GoBucks" he posted.
The Associated Press left telephone, text and e-mail messages seeking comment from coach Jim Tressel, athletic director Gene Smith, the school's compliance director and other university officials.
Asked by the AP to respond to the allegations, Ohio State associate athletic director Dan Wallenberg said in an e-mail, "No information to share."
Team spokeswoman Shelly Poe said after Tuesday's practice that each player was eligible for the bowl. She said she was unaware of any NCAA investigation.
The Buckeyes have several days off before reporting back to campus on Sunday night. They practice Monday and Tuesday before flying to New Orleans for the BCS bowl game on Dec. 29.
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