Dienhart: NCAA sends strong message

The NCAA hammer has come down hard at Ohio State. This afternoon, the NCAA announced Ohio State will be ineligible for postseason play in 2012, stripped nine scholarships over the next three years and added a third year of the probation to the two the school already had slapped on itself as part of earlier self-sanctions.

The result in Columbus has been shock. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith had earlier stated that a bowl ban would be out of line with penalties given to schools who had committed similar violations. But this may be a new era of more punitive enforcement under NCAA president Mark Emmert, who took over in April 2010 and has seen many ugly headlines that have given many the perception that things are out of control.

Emmert’s message seems to be: Behave, or else.

(See the full list of penalties here, read the official statement from Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith at ohiostatebuckeyes.com and check out Urban Meyer’s statement.)

The NCAA also announced today that former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will be given a five-year “show-cause” label for his role in the scandal. So, any school that wants to hire him must go before the NCAA and state a case for it. And any school that hires him without following this NCAA-mandated procedure would face some type of penalties.

These are among some of the most severe sanctions levied against a Big Ten football program. The last time a Big Ten team was banned from a bowl was Minnesota in 1991. Other Big Ten teams banned from bowls have been Michigan State from 1976-78; Illinois from 1967-68 and in 1984; Indiana from 1960-63. And Ohio State was banned in 1956.

Ohio State's Gene Smith


The scholarship cuts may have the biggest impact on Ohio State and new coach Urban Meyer, who was hired in November. While the bowl ban hurts, it’s missing the bowl practices leading up to a bowl that will hurt even more as Meyer looks to develop young players.

And what will this do to the Big Ten title chase in 2012? With Ohio State out of the picture and Penn State in turmoil, Wisconsin likely will be the favorite to repeat as Leaders Division champs. But the Badgers will have some major issues with quarterback Russell Wilson gone and running back Montee Ball perhaps off early to the NFL. Bottom line: The Legends Division looks to have the stronger and more stable programs entering next season.

The NCAA sanctions announced today are the culmination of almost a year’s worth of investigation and fact-finding into players receiving improper benefits. Last December, news of the scandal broke and Ohio State suspended five players for the first five games of 2011 for accepting cash and tattoos from the owner of a Columbus-area tattoo parlor.

Part of the fallout from the scandal included Tressel being forced to resign last spring for knowing about the situation and not informing his bosses about it. Also, star quarterback Terrelle Pryor was implicated and opted to leave for the NFL draft. Along with Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas all were suspended.

In November, the NCAA subsequently uncovered more violations about players receiving improper benefits in the form of a booster paying players for charity work and also paying players too much for part-time work. That led to more suspensions and the NCAA slapping Ohio State with a “failure to monitor” label, the second-most serious charge the NCAA can levy. And the school also has been labeled a repeat offender, as it already was on probation for violations committed by the men’s basketball program under Jim O’Brien.

Ohio State already had self-imposed some sanctions prior to today’s announcement. The school vacated all victories from 2010 and its share of the Big Ten title. Ohio State also has returned its share of bowl money from last season, imposed recruiting restrictions and trimmed five scholarships over the next three years.

But the NCAA stripped four more scholarships over the next three seasons on top of the five the school already had taken away from itself as part of its self-sanctions. And the NCAA also added a year of probation to the two the school already had slapped on itself.

Ohio State struggled through a 6-6 season with co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell serving as interim head coach. It was the school’s worst record since a 6-6 mark in 1999 under John Cooper. The Buckeyes will play Florida in the TaxSlayer.com Bowl on Jan. 2.

Ohio State’s woes are the latest black eye for the Big Ten, as its three most high-profile football programs have made ugly headlines in recent years.

Penn State is in the midst of the most sordid scandal ever to hit a campus, as charges of child sex abuse against a former assistant football rocked the nation and caused legendary coach Joe Paterno to be unceremoniously fired. Criminal and civil charges are in motion. And the NCAA may even get involved with some type of investigation.

Under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan’s football program was placed on probation for the first time ever. The program was slapped with a three-year probation in November 2010 for violating practice and training limits. The NCAA didn’t say that Michigan failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance, but the program reduced training time by 130 hours over a two-year period as part of self-imposed penalties, among other things. Rodriguez was fired after the 2010 season and hired as head coach of Arizona this offseason.

But Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan haven’t been the worst NCAA violators among Big Ten football programs. According to a report in AnnArbor.com last summer, the football programs at Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois have spent the most time on probation among Big Ten schools. In fact, those three schools are in the top 10 for football programs that have spent the most time on probation. The Spartans have had 10 years’ worth of probation accrued over three instances, with the last coming in 1996. Wisconsin and Illinois each have been on nine years of probation over four instances.

Indiana (five years over two instances); Minnesota (four years over two instances); Ohio State (four years over two instances); Nebraska (one year over one instance) also are on the list, along with Michigan (three years over one instance). Iowa, Purdue, Penn State and Northwestern are the only Big Ten football programs never to be on probation.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 12/20/2011 @ 4:27pm EDT Said:

As a point of reference to Big Ten football programs and probation, here’s a look at Big 12; Pac-12 and SEC football programs and probation. I have included Texas A&M and Missouri with the SEC; TCU and West Virginia with the Big 12.

Big 12

Baylor: has been on probation for 5 years over 1 instance
Iowa State: 2 years ;instance
Kansas: 8 years; 4 instances
Kansas State: 8 years; 4 instances
Oklahoma: 10 years; 5 instances
Oklahoma State: 8 years; 2 instances
Texas: 3 years; 3 instances
TCU: 3 years; 1 instance
Texas Tech: 7 years; 3 instances
West Virginia: none


Arizona has been on probation 3 years over 2 instances.
Arizona State: 8 years; 4 instances
Cal: 8 years; 3 instances
Colorado: 9 years; 5 instances
Oregon: 4 years; 2 instances
Oregon State: 1 year; 1 instance
Stanford: none
UCLA: 6 years; 3 instances
USC: 15 years; 6 instances
Utah: 4 years; 2 instances
Washington: 6 years; 3 instances
Washington State: none


Alabama: has been on probation for 10 years over 3 instances
Arkansas: 4 years; 2 instances
Auburn: 11 years; 4 instances
Florida: 6 years; 3 instances
Georgia: 4 years; 3 instances
Kentucky: 6 years; 3 instances
LSU: 1 year; 1 instance
Mississippi: 7 years; 3 instances
Mississippi State: 7 years; 3 instances
Missouri: none
South Carolina: 5 years; 2 instances
Tennessee: 3 years; 2 instances
Texas A&M: 9 years; 4 instances

huskerred on 12/20/2011 @ 6:04pm EDT Said:

The cover-up is serious allegation and OSU did try to cover-up, that has been shown. If it had been self-reported I would agree with your concensus of, “The NCAA hammer has come down hard at Ohio State,” but thats not the case. If you look at their 2006 basketball episode being within the five year probation period, the NCAA was quite lenient. So how many of these other instances pointed out had a cover-up involved? Just curious.

Hamilton on 12/20/2011 @ 8:26pm EDT Said:

This isn’t a strong message. Sorry … what on earth is five years probation now a days? Seriously, the only thing that this comes down to is no bowl in 2012-2013. The loss of scholarships over a three-year period is a joke. That is easily pushed aside as Urban can ditch three non factors or underachievers each year to improve the roster. Again, what message was sent? Hardly a strong message Tom. Having to vacate the 2010 season which is 0-0 instead of 0-13 is a benefit.

What would really be a penalty is not allow OSU to collect any bowl money from the BIG collection of bowl monies that are divided among the schools. You also force them to give back that money from last year. If you do that, along with the bowl ban and the loss of scholarships, then its better and sends a message. This doesn’t.

JT on 12/21/2011 @ 11:12am EDT Said:

Coming down hard on the innocent – players that have dreamed of playing at OSU, taking scholarships from KIDS that weren’t even there when this happened, losing revenue for for businesses that support OSU and live off the success of their beloved schools that help them make a living. Taking money from the conference by not allowing the players that did NOTHING wrong to not compete in a bowl, therefore not sharing the slice of the conference bowl cash also effects other schools in the conference. I can go on and on …Seriously? It is time for a major overhaul of the NCAA, then to punish the guilty … fine the coaches, the players (especially the ones that leave and go pro…they have the cash). I don’t have the solution because in reality until criminal charges can be brought on these violations you punish the innocent, the fans, the businesses that make living, etc.