Ohio State investigation delays rewards
Members of the Ohio State football program have not yet received the school's traditional gold pants charms for their victory over long-standing rivals Michigan, The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday.
The charms, which date back to 1934, have been put on hold while the university awaits a ruling from the NCAA on violations linked to players trading memorabilia -- including gold pants charms -- for free tattoos or other improper benefits.
The Buckeyes dismantled Michigan 37-7 nearly six months ago to finish the regular season with an 11-1 record, earning them a bid to play in the Sugar Bowl.
According to The Dispatch, the players, coaches and staff normally would have received the charms much sooner.
But the NCAA, which has asked Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel and school administrators to appear before the Committee on Infractions Aug. 12, could decide to vacate the win as punishment for the players' actions and for Tressel's attempt to keep the matter quiet.
"If they vacate the win, it makes no sense to award the gold pants, at least in our minds," said Gold Pants Club president Jim Lachey, who was an All-American offensive lineman for the Buckeyes in the 1980s. "And if you hand them out and say, 'Oh yeah, we'll need to get them back if the win is vacated' -- I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a smart way to go."
Ohio State reported the violations to the NCAA in December, and Tressel claimed he had been unaware of the transgressions up until that time. But his claim was proven untrue in March, when Yahoo! Sports reported the Buckeyes coach had known about the violations for eight months.
Tressel later admitted to having knowledge of the violations as far back as April 2010. In a letter sent to the school last month, the NCAA accused Tressel of dishonesty for failing to disclose the violations.
According to the US Department of Justice, the Buckeyes players were said to have sold 36 items to the owner of a local tattoo parlor in return for a haul, worth more than $14,000, that ranged from tattoos to a 2003 Chevy Tahoe.
The owner of the tattoo shop, Eddie Rife, was the target of a federal drug investigation. The memorabilia was seized during a raid on the suspected drug dealer's home in May 2010.
Ohio State suspended Tressel for the first five games of the 2011 season and fined him $250,000.
The Buckeyes players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, tailback Daniel ''Boom'' Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas were also suspended for the first five games of next season.
All five players were permitted to participate in the Sugar Bowl in January, which Ohio State won 31-26 over Arkansas.