Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas must sit out the first five games of Ohio State's 2011 season because they received improper benefits for selling awards, gifts and university apparel, the NCAA has ruled.
The players are eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas on Jan. 4.
Ohio State's first five opponents in 2011 are Akron, Toledo, Miami (Fla.), Colorado and Michigan State.
ONLINE EXTRA: 2011 Ohio State Schedule
In addition to the five-game suspensions, the five players must also repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments will be made to charity, the NCAA said.
A sixth player, Jordan Whiting, must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and pay back $150 for receiving discounted services.
During a news conference on Thursday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the university will appeal the NCAA ruling in the hopes that the players' suspensions could be reduced.
VIDEO EXTRAS: Tattoo Shop Investigation | Tressel, Smith Discuss Player Reaction | Responses To Dec. 23 Question Of The Day | SLIDESHOW: Ohio State Players Sanctioned By NCAA | WEB EXTRA: NCAA Requires Loss Of Contests For Six Ohio State Football Student-Athletes (PDF) | SPECIAL SECTION: Ohio State Football
"We believe the sanctions are severe. We believe sanctions should be rendered because a violation did occur," Smith said. "We do believe that we will be able to submit mitigating circumstances for the NCAA to consider and hopefully reduce the number of games that our young men are currently being sanctioned."
Flanked by head coach Jim Tressel, Smith said the investigation into the players began in early December, after the U.S. Attorney's Office seized Ohio State items from an unidentified person's home and business. Investigators contacted the athletic department and it was determined that football players had sold the items.
The university then compiled a self-report, sent it to the NCAA and declared the players ineligible, Smith said.
According to a news release from the NCAA, the players sold items that included Big Ten championship rings, football jerseys and gold pants -- a pendant that players receive from the university for beating Michigan.
The NCAA provided the following terms of reinstatements for the five players facing multiple-game suspensions:
The NCAA said the players were eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl because they did not receive adequate rules education during the time period when the violations occurred.
Sources said Ed Rife is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation that led to the discovery of the Ohio State merchandise, 10TV's Andy Hirsch reported.
Rife owns Fine Line Ink Tattoos on the city's west side.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio issued a statement on Thursday afternoon
that said, "In the course of a criminal investigation, investigators recovered items that appeared
to be the property of The Ohio State University Athletic Department or its players. We approached
the Athletic Department and asked for their assistance in clarifying the ownership of the items."
Photos obtained from Rife's Facebook page showed Ohio State football paraphernalia, including a Big Ten championship ring, Hirsch reported.
A former employee who asked not to be identified said Rife tattooed several Buckeye football players and displayed some OSU merchandise in the shop.
Smith said the university would "further enhance" its rules education because of the case.
Tressel said on Wednesday that the case should be a learning experience for all parties involved.
"It'll be a great lesson for them and for others within our program and across the country," he said.
"Whatever the next step of gut-wrenching is, that's the way you feel. We feel a responsibility for our kids, you know that, on and off the field. Obviously this is painful."
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December 22, 2010: Ohio State Probing Possible NCAA Violations By Football Players