- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW ORLEANS -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany supported Ohio State in how the school handled the NCAA violations by five players for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits.
But the reports that Delany aggressively lobbied for the players to be allowed to participate in Tuesday night's Allstate Sugar Bowl matchup against Arkansas likely are overstating the truth.
In fact, Delany wasn't even aware of the NCAA policy that suspends withholding penalties for championship games or bowls.
"I was a little bit surprised, like a lot of people were, that there was a precedent," Delany told ESPN.com on Sunday. "But there has been one since 2004."
From the NCAA news release announcing the Ohio State suspensions:
NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation. In addition, there must not be any competitive advantage related to the violations, and the student-athletes must have eligibility remaining.
The policy for suspending withholding conditions for bowl games or NCAA championship competition recognizes the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season, and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective.
Asked if he felt the Ohio State players deserved to participate in the Sugar Bowl, Delany said, "That's an NCAA call."
But the commissioner felt Ohio State handled the situation appropriately.
"The school investigated it, declared the kids ineligible, turned in the violations and will eventually appeal some of the penalties," Delany said. "I think they did it exactly the right way. They turned in [the violations] within 5-10 days of the time they found it, and the NCAA made the decision they made.
"I didn't know there was such an exception, but apparently there is."
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