Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has asked for a harsher suspension after the NCAA determined Thursday its initial ruling of a five-game suspension in a case involving five OSU student-athletes will not be reduced.
“Throughout this entire situation my players and I have committed ourselves to facing our mistakes and growing from them; we can only successfully do that together,” Tressel said in a press release. “I spoke with athletics director (Gene) Smith, and our student‐athletes involved, and told them that my mistakes need to share the same game sanctions. Like my players, I am very sorry for the mistakes I made. I request of the university that my sanctions now include five games so that the players and I can handle this adversity together.”
The ruling comes just eight days after OSU suspended Tressel for two games, as well as fined him $250,000, for withholding information regarding the players’ misdeeds.
He was first made aware that the players might have broken NCAA rules on April 2, 2010, when a Columbus attorney, Christopher Cicero, alerted Tressel in his first of a series of e-mails.
“Coach Tressel has requested that he sit out the first five games of the 2011 season,” Smith said. “I have accepted his request and we are taking action to notify the NCAA. Until the NCAA has completed its investigation, we will not be publicly discussing the details of this case.”
On Dec. 23, the NCAA ruled that five junior Buckeye football players — quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas — would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia, awards and game-worn clothing.
Freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended for one game for receiving discounted tattoos.
“While we are disappointed that our appeal request was denied, we respect the NCAA and accept its ruling,” Smith said. “The players are sorry for the disappointment they have caused, will learn from their mistakes and will strive to earn the confidence and support of everyone associated with the university through their future conduct.”
OSU began working on an appeal on behalf of the suspended players shortly after the NCAA made its initial ruling on the matter. All six suspended Buckeyes were eligible to participate in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas on Jan. 4, a 31-26 Buckeye victory.
In the press release, a Big Ten athletics representative and professor at OSU stressed that the university has been working toward ensuring student-athletes are receiving a proper education regarding NCAA rules and regulations.
“The university remains steadfast in its commitment to continually improve the compliance education process,” said John Bruno, faculty athletics representative to the Big Ten and NCAA, and OSU professor of psychology. “We believe that we do a good job in educating our more than 900 student-athletes, but we strive to do better to help them make good decisions.”
Besides the suspensions, the players will have to repay benefits they earned, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
This was the university’s final opportunity to appeal.
Zack Meisel contributed to this story.