Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Boom Herron Suspended for Half the 2011 Season

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It was just announced today that five college football players from The Ohio State University must sit out the first five games of the 2011 season for selling awards, gifts and university apparel and receiving improper benefits in 2009. Yes,the Buckeyes will indeed be without some of their key players for one game less than half the year.

A sixth football player must sit out the first game in 2011 for receiving discounted services in violation of NCAA rules.

In addition to missing OSU’s first contests of 2011, Mike Adams, Daniel “Boom” Herron, Devier Posey, Terrelle Pryor 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.

The Draconian harshness of the ruling, when compared against the Cam Newton situation, which resulted in no infraction, will no doubt inspire of legions of Buckeye fans to cry foul and accuse the NCAA of hypocrisy.

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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 decision from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff does not include a withholding condition for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The withholding condition was suspended and all six players will be eligible to play in the bowl game Jan. 4 based on several factors.

The Buckeyes are going to lose a lot of talent and key contributors in their departing class of graduating seniors. But now on top of those losses, they’ll also be without their top QB, RB, and WR. They’re losing the whole core of their defense to graduation in 2011, and now they’ll be without the entire nucleus of their offense for the first five games as well.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation. In addition, there must not be any competitive advantage related to the violations, and the student-athletes must have eligibility remaining.

Gene Smith, associate vice president and director of athletics at Ohio State, said the university will “further enhance” its rules education in the future based on this situation. He is currently holding a press conference on this matter.

“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,” Smith said. “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.”

The standard withholding condition in cases like these involving the five student-athletes is four games, or 30 percent of a season. A fifth game was added to the penalty because these student-athletes did not immediately disclose the violations when presented with the appropriate rules education, Lennon said.

“Once a student-athlete understands a violation has occurred, they must immediately come forward to report it,” he said. “That did not happen, so the additional one-game penalty was imposed.”

The university declared the student-athletes ineligible on Monday (Dec. 20) and requested reinstatement from the NCAA.

As part of their reinstatement, 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.

The university can appeal the decision to the Division I NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, an independent committee comprised of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. This committee can reduce or remove the condition, but it cannot increase the staff-imposed conditions.

It is NCAA policy not to comment on current, pending or potential investigations.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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