Earlier this year, Ohio State said it was vacating all 12 of its victories from the 2010 football season and placing itself on two years’ probation in the wake of a scandal that cost coach Jim Tressel his job; this was all before any serious investigation and final sanctions placed on the team by the NCAA.
Tressel was fined $250,000 and soon after pushed out of his role as Head Coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes.
On Tuesday, December 20, the NCAA imposed penalties of additional scholarship reductions, three years of probation, the forfeiture of almost $340,000 and all of the Buckeye victories for the 2010 season.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he is “surprised and disappointed” that the NCAA imposed a one-year bowl ban and other penalties against the Buckeyes football program as punishment.
Ohio State fully cooperated with the NCAA’s investigation. Instead of arguing its innocence, Ohio State admitted to its sins — or, more accurately, former coach Jim Tressel’s sins. Ohio State believed that by saying and doing what the NCAA asked in the wake of the scandal, it would be granted leniency when it was time to pay.
But instead of accepting Ohio State’s self-imposed penalties the NCAA committee on infractions added some punishment of its own. The Buckeyes won’t be eligible to play for a conference championship or in a bowl game in new coach Urban Meyer’s first season in 2012 and they’ll lose three scholarships in each of the next three seasons.
A little over a year ago, the Trojans were hit with a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period. USC was hit with some of the most severe penalties in NCAA history because Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo accepted thousands of dollars in improper benefits from sports marketers and agents. Unlike OSU, USC was defiant in the face of allegations.
Since taking office in November 2010, new NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly said he wanted college sports’ governing body to get more serious about cracking down on rule breakers.
The Buckeyes are only the beginning of Emmert’s new rule as North Carolina and Miami, who await NCAA sanctions themselves; we will soon know that Emmert is indeed serious.