Ohio State vacates 2010 football wins, Sugar Bowl

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State is vacating its wins from the 2010 football season, including its share of the Big Ten championship and it's victory in the 2011 Sugar Bowl...

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State is vacating its wins from the 2010 football season, including its share of the Big Ten championship and the Buckeyes’ victory over Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

Responding to the NCAA’s investigation of a memorabilia-for-cash scandal that cost former coach Jim Tressel his job and led to star quarterback Terrelle Pryor leaving school, the university also said Friday it is waiving a $250,000 fine imposed on Tressel and changing his resignation to a retirement. The move contradicts a comment university President Gordon Gee made last month when he said Tressel “will pay the fine.”

Through the school, the ex-Buckeyes coach said that he is taking responsibility for the NCAA inquiry, which developed after it was learned Tressel failed to report players receiving improper benefits.

Tressel will attend Ohio State’s Aug. 12 hearing before the NCAA infractions committee, the former coach’s attorney said Friday.

The university also is putting the football program on probation for two years, which means there would be harsher penalties if any further wrongdoing is discovered.

The response to the NCAA doesn’t mean Ohio State’s woes are over. The governing body for college sports could still impose tougher sanctions, such as a ban on post-season play and a reduction in scholarships in the wake of the August hearing.

Athletic Director Gene Smith wouldn’t speculate on what else the NCAA might do, but he called the university’s actions significant. Not only is the entire 2010 season wiped out along with the Sugar Bowl — the Buckeyes went 12-1, the lone loss coming at Wisconsin — but so is the university’s seven-game winning streak over rival Michigan.

“That’s a significant impact to those who participated, and some of them are still here today,” he said.

Smith said the university will overhaul how it manages its football players, from the cars they drive to where they live, to the bars and restaurants they visit. “A lot of different strategies,” he said.

Smith said he felt betrayed by Tressel when the coach informed him he’d known for months that players had sold memorabilia or traded them for tattoos and cash at a local tattoo parlor without telling anyone at the university, as required under his contract and NCAA rules.

“In the moment, yes, I felt betrayed. Why not bring that to me?” Smith said. “But I’ve gone on.”

The scandal unfolded in two stages. First, OSU officials announced in December they’d uncovered the memorabilia trading and sales and said they were suspending five players for five games in 2011 and one player for one.

Then in March, the university learned that Tressel had known about the violations since April 2010. After backing him for weeks, the university pressured him to resign on Memorial Day.

Players involved in the case had visited a tattoo parlor in Columbus owned by Edward Rife, who had been under federal investigation. Agents who searched Rife’s home found the memorabilia and alerted Ohio State authorities.

The 31-year-old Rife pleaded guilty last month to drug trafficking and money laundering charges in federal court and is awaiting sentencing. A federal prosecutor has said there’s no evidence Ohio State players were involved in the marijuana ring.

Officials said Friday they believed they’d uncovered all possible violations by football players.

“You never know, but we’ve done a lot of due diligence,” said John Bruno, faculty athletics representative. “We looked weeks to months to find something else and nothing has come up.”

Pryor was among the original group of players who was suspended for the first five games of this year. But he left OSU to try his luck in the NFL soon after Tressel quit, and now an unidentified player has been added to the list.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press