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Ohio State Sits Three Players

Trio received improper funds

September 2, 2011
By RUSTY MILLER , The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Three more football players are in hot water at Ohio State.

As a result, Ohio State might be in even more trouble with the NCAA.

The school reported late Thursday afternoon that running back Jordan Hall, defensive back Corey Brown and defensive back Travis Howard each received impermissible benefits of $300 or less earlier this year.

The latest violations took place after several Buckeyes players were suspended for accepting cash and free tattoos from the subject of a federal drug-trafficking probe and Ohio State had ramped up its compliance department to warn athletes not to break NCAA rules.

All three were suspended for the Buckeyes' season-opening game on Saturday against Akron at Ohio Stadium.

"We take this matter seriously," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said in a statement. "Our commitment to institutional integrity is steadfast, and we must hold everyone associated with our athletics programs accountable for lapses in judgment. We believe in transparency with the NCAA, all regulatory bodies and all of Buckeye Nation."

Hall and Howard, both juniors, were listed as the starters on Ohio State's two-deep roster for the game. Brown, who goes by the nickname "Pittsburgh" to distinguish him from Buckeyes wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown, was listed as a backup at safety.

Ohio State is already awaiting final word on what sanctions it will receive from the NCAA for memorabilia-for-cash violations which occurred in 2010 that led to coach Jim Tressel's forced resignation on May 30. Several players have already been suspended and the 2010 season was vacated because of the earlier problems.

The latest admission could affect Ohio State's current case before the NCAA, which was heard on Aug. 12. The NCAA's committee on infractions is expected to hand down a decision as early as the end of September.

Hall, from Jeannette, Pa., is a former high school teammate of Terrelle Pryor, one of the players who was suspended for trading signed memorabilia for cash and free or discounted tattoos from the owner of a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner. The tattoo-parlor owner, Edward Rife, later pleaded guilty to money laundering and drug trafficking charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Tressel, won led Ohio State to the 2002 national championship, admitted that he knew as early as April of 2010 that some of his players had accepted money from Rife. But he failed to notify any of his superiors at Ohio State or anyone in NCAA compliance until confronted by investigators in January of 2011.

Soon after Tressel resigned, Pryor, at the heart of university and NCAA investigations into improper benefits, gave up his final year of eligibility to make himself available for an NFL supplemental draft. He was taken in the third round by the Oakland Raiders.

The Buckeyes are already without five players in the opener who were suspended for taking improper benefits. Sitting out the first five games this fall are last year's leading rusher Daniel Herron, top returning receiver DeVier Posey and starting offensive tackle Mike Adams, along with backup defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Thomas was the hero of the Buckeyes' 31-26 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, grabbing a late interception to preserve the win. But that game, along with every other one in a 12-1 season last year, was vacated.

According to a release issued by the university, after finding out about the violations involving Hall, Brown and Howard, Ohio State looked into the situation and self-reported the infractions to the NCAA and the Big Ten. All three were suspended from the team, with the university then asking the NCAA for their reinstatement for the rest of the season.

The university also is considering institutional sanctions for the three.

Smith and other Ohio State officials declined further comment.