CFN Analysis - The Ohio State Suspensions
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Posted Dec 23, 2010

Mike Adams, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas were suspended by the NCAA for violations revolving around the sale of some items ranging from game-worn pants to championship rings. While they'll have to miss the first five games of next year, the NCAA is allowing them to play in the Sugar Bowl. The CFNers give their take on yet another NCAA controversy.

CFN Analysis   

Ohio State Suspensions

From Ohio State Sports Information: Five football student-athletes 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, the NCAA has determined.

In addition to missing five games next season, student-athletes Mike Adams, Dan 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.

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.

By Pete Fiutak

And somewhere, as you're reading this, Cam Newton is preparing to play in your 2011 BCS Championship and didn't miss a snap during the regular season.

Here's the problem in yet another silly and bizarre ruling by the NCAA. The organization has so many weird rules and bylaws that it's sort of making it up and interpreting them as they go along, so how in the wide, wide world of sports is some dopey 20-year-old supposed to know the difference between the NCAA's version of right and wrong? The NCAA doesn't even really know exactly quite what to do with its own rules and regulations, and after the fiasco with the Newton ruling, it came up with another strange call by saying that Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, WR DeVier Posey, OT Mike Adams, and DL Solomon Thomas will be suspended for part of next year, but can play in the Sugar Bowl, because, according to the NCAA VP Kevin Lennon, the players didn't "receive adequate rules education" when they sold some items and received "improper benefits."

So, once again, the I Didn't Know line worked, at least for the bowl game.

And what player doesn't know the NCAA doesn't like it when you sell your championship rings and memorabilia? Of course they knew it was wrong -- at least NCAA wrong.

While the NCAA's rules when it comes to matters like this might be self-serving and wrong, I don't necessarily disagree with the overall punishment because it's consistent with most of the other rulings over the last few years. But, at the same time, the timing of the judgment and the decision to allow the Buckeyes to play in the Sugar Bowl is 1) curious and 2) yet another reason for schools like USC, North Carolina, and Georgia to scream bloody murder about the NCAA's decision to be lenient for the showcase game.

Why wouldn't Ohio State want the suspensions to be held off until next year? Tomorrow is a promise to no one, and especially teams with uber-talented players Pryor has said he's returning for his senior year, but maybe he changes his mind after going gonzo on the Hogs. The same goes for Herron, Posey, and Adams, who will all see time on an NFL field in the near future. If they bolt, then this ruling becomes nothing more than a fist-shaking exercise.

Want more reason to question the punishment of five games to start the 2011 season? Ohio State's opener is against Akron. Win. Toledo. Win. At Miami. This might be a problem, but the Canes are rebuilding under Al Golden and it's not a conference game. Colorado. Win. That's four games, and then comes the start of the Big Ten season.

Considering Georgia's A.J. Green basically did the same thing and he got four games, Pryor and the boys will probably be eligible for the home opener for the Spartans after an appeal, but let's say the NCAA doesn't budge. Why wasn't the punishment, say, six games?

October 8. At Nebraska.

Now, before going deep into conspiracy theories, the NCAA traditionally doesn't give a flying fig about big games. If it really cared that much about the big battles and the money they generate, then they wouldn't have dropped such a hammer on USC. Sorry, Pac 10 fans, but the world on the right side of the Rockies doesn't care about the Pac 10 any more than you care about the ACC, and even with Oregon's dream season, USC transcends the conference; its near-death experience hurt. With that said, the NCAA once again screwed this up by being wishy-washy and it opened itself up for more shots in the future.

NCAA, you either need to go hard-ass or you have to completely back off and be little more than a traffic cop. You didn't learn from the Cam Newton situation. No one likes you or your rules, but everyone usually knows what happens when a player steps out of line. Now, and going forward, there will always be too much room to maneuver and the players will be more confused than ever.

Remember, players, coaches, and greedy parents: "I … Didn't … Know."

By Richard Cirminiello
Okay, but why do the suspended Buckeyes get to play in the $ugar Bowl?

Do you see the hypocrisy, or am I just being hyper-critical of the NCAA? So, a half-dozen Ohio State players, including QB Terrelle Pryor and leading rusher Dan Herron, will be forced to sit out games in 2011 for receiving improper benefits, but their eligibility for the $ugar Bowl is unaffected? It makes no sense at all. Sure, ratings and possibly attendance of a BCS bowl game would be negatively affected, but if that was such a concern, the NCAA should have announced its findings at some point in January. Why now? Like most questionable decisions in sports, follow the money and you'll undoubtedly find the answers. Was Allstate, the game's sponsor, in the room when the decision came down? Actually, if the NCAA really wanted to be ruthless, it would have handed down the penalties after the deadline for declaring for entry into the NFL Draft.

Geez, it's not even Christmas yet and the first major story of the 2011 season has begun to unfold. Looking beyond the $ugar Bowl, this is obviously a serious blow to next year's Buckeye team, one that likely would have been ranked in the top 5. After opening with Akron and Toledo, Ohio State will be shorthanded against Miami, Colorado, and Michigan State. And then there's the Oct. 8 trip to Lincoln to face Nebraska. The suspensions will be lifted by then, but on who? The big question over the next couple of weeks will center on next April's NFL Draft. Pryor, Herron, WR DeVier Posey, and LT Mike Adams are all juniors. And are all pro prospects. If they had any inkling of turning pro a week ago, this might have sealed that decision for the quartet.

By Matt Zemek

We couldn't make it through 2010 without another cringe-inducing moment of hypocrisy in the NCAA's upside-down, black-is-white world. So many layers exist in a story that needs to be peeled back, piece by bloody piece.

Point number one: Players broke rules. They should be suspended. This is not a point of debate in an immediate context, but let's move along to address the broader context and the fuller backdrop against which these violations occurred.

Point number two: "I didn't know" is being allowed to serve as an adequate reason for keeping the five Ohio State football players eligible for the 2011 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. In the press release pertaining to the upholding of Cameron Newton's eligibility for the SEC Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game, the NCAA essentially said that a player's lack of knowledge of his parents' doings could shield him from ineligibility. (Point of clarification: Cam Newton and Auburn University broke no rules, but as USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said in the wake of the ruling, he had always been taught by NCAA officials that "the parent is the child" with respect to ineligibility and the violation of NCAA rules. The issue here is not so much punishment as it is consistency of enforcement and evenness in the application of principles.) It is only more laughable that "I didn't know" can allow Ohio State's (prime skill-position) athletes to play in a bowl game. Carving out this neat Sugar Bowl exception is a craven and transparent move to protect the investments made in this BCS-sanctioned bowl game.

Point number three: Ohio State has six full-time compliance staffers, and yet inadequate compliance/rules education is being cited in the NCAA's report on this scandal? Please – enough of the doublespeak and painfully obvious falsehoods in official explanations. We don't need any more Orwellian elements to enter into big-time collegiate athletics.

Point number four: One would have to think that the likenesses of Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, and DeVier Posey have been used in NCAA football video games. Do the players get a cut of that money? No. Pryor has certainly seen his No. 2 jersey sold a fair amount; Herron and Posey have also had their jerseys sold to a lesser extent. Do they get a cut of that money? No. Does the Sugar Bowl hand out gifts and swag to players? Yes. Can the players sell those items? No. Do coaches (Oregon's Chip Kelly) get cash bonuses for winning awards? Yes. Do players get cash bonuses for being excellent, even while their schools' respective coffers swell as a result? No.

The Ohio State players should be suspended, just as anyone else should be when he breaks an NCAA rule that is on the books. However, and this deserves boldface prominence - the number one point of this whole episode, just like the Cam Newton saga or the Reggie Bush affair (and, for that matter, the messy dramas involving SMU football and Marcus Dupree, portrayed on ESPN's "30 for 30" series), is that the NCAA needs to be blown up. Most, if not all, of its rules are violations of human freedoms, especially the ability to market products or services that one has worked hard to develop. Capitalism is okay when the NCAA or the BCS cabal practice it, but it's never okay when players engage in capitalism themselves. It's disgusting, and everyone knows it, too.

Point number five: In "punishing" these five Ohio State players, the NCAA is actually allowing them to get their hands on NFL money more quickly; the dollars might be lower, but the increased likelihood of an early exit to the pros means that at least some of these players (Pryor, Herron, Posey) could cash a decent-sized paycheck and immediately start honing their skills. They won't have to worry about suffering a Willis McGahee-style injury (in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl). That's quite an irony.

Continuing the irony express, realize this as well: The main reason Ohio State was taken over a more deserving Michigan State team for the Sugar Bowl(according to Weekly Affirmation conference championship metrics and non-BCS-based tiebreakers) was nothing more than a pure profit motive. The many hypocrisies evident in this larger situation – from various angles and for a vast array of reasons – all point toward one thing: The NCAA might have rules on the books, but the rules are unjust. Let's start focusing on tearing down those rules, and put the heated debate about a playoff system on the FAR back burner. Reforming college sports has to be priority number one for anyone involved in this billion-dollar industry… an industry in which the generators of the income are the very same people who can't cash in while they bust their butts for our enjoyment, pleasure and – in the case of sportswriters – employment.

In conclusion, it's (well past) time for people interested in the health and goodness of college athletics to sue the NCAA's pants off. It's time to destroy the awful pseudo-legal edifices this wayward organization continues to erect to everyone's everlasting frustration. Enough!