Ohio State A.D. Defends Football Punishments
Acknowledging the critics who wonder why the six players who broke NCAA rules are not suspended for the Sugar Bowl on Jan.4, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith argued that those players are paying a heavy price, regardless.“You’re going to have people who feel like they should be out of school, period, and I’ve got a lot of that (feedback),” Smith said last night. “And then you have people who say, ’Hey, these were 18- or 19-year-old kids; they deserve another opportunity.’
“So I’m not trying to justify anything, but all I know is this: When they come back from the bowl game, they’ve got to sit in the classroom. They’ve got to walk across campus. They’ve got to interact with some of those people who think they shouldn’t even be in school.
“There’s a burden there, and a lot of people don’t understand what it feels like to wake up one morning and pick up the paper and there you are on the front page with five of your teammates.
“There’s a lot of pressure here that is beyond playing in a bowl game.”
That said, Smith said he does not know if coach Jim Tressel will levy any further sanctions on the six players – offensive tackle Mike Adams, running back Daniel Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, defensive end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Jordan Whiting.
The Buckeyes had a team meeting yesterday as they returned from a holiday break. They will practice today and Tuesday before leaving for New Orleans on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what Jim is going to do,” Smith said. “We haven’t talked about that.”
Smith said that Ohio State this week will officially inform the NCAA of its intent to appeal, and likely will file the appeal next week.
He admitted that would make it difficult for players who might be considering leaving for the NFL a year early, as their deadline to file for the draft is Jan.15 (they can withdraw by Jan.18 and retain their collegiate eligibility).
The six players have to pay back various amounts of money in order to be reinstated, based on the value of the memorabilia they sold and/or the discounts they received on tattoos.
Smith said the players do not necessarily have to pay that back in a lump sum and could possibly set up a payment plan, including the option of having scholarship money withheld each month.
As for the report Saturday by a Chicago-based blogger that Tressel was going to resign, Smith said Tressel joked about it to his players yesterday:
“He said, ’Unfortunately for you, I’m going to be your coach.’”