The NCAA announced Friday that running back Jordan Hall and defensive backs Travis Howard and Corey Brown have not been cleared to compete in Saturday's game against Toledo. Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said Tuesday that all three players would be back from suspension, but the NCAA has ruled otherwise.
"The nature and scope of their violations merit a minimum two-game suspension," an NCAA statement reads. "In addition, the facts submitted by the university have raised further questions that need to be answered before the reinstatement process is complete."
Ohio State said in a statement that it continues to work with the NCAA and "is hopeful that the student-athletes will be reinstated soon."
Records released earlier this week by Ohio State show the players accepted $200 at a Cleveland charity event. But where the money came from remains somewhat in doubt.
From the Associated Press story:
Two of the athletes said they believed the money was for working at the event while a third said he believed he was receiving money from a teammate. They were invited to attend the charity event by a former Buckeyes player.
All three believed that Ohio State had approved attending the event, even though it had not. Ohio State had permitted athletes to attend the event in 2007 and 2010, however, Ohio State's NCAA compliance department requires that athletes ask for and receive written permission to attend promotional or charitable events. The records, a copy of the violations that Ohio State forwarded to the NCAA, do not point to a clear source for the money. All names were blacked out in the material released to The Associated Press.
This discrepancy is likely what the NCAA means by "further questions."
The announcement shouldn't hurt Ohio State in the short term. Although both Hall and Howard entered the season as projected starters, the Buckeyes have enough talent at both positions to survive without them. It would have been beneficial to evaluate the versatile Hall before a Week 3 trip to Miami.
In the bigger picture, the school is continuing to cooperate with the NCAA, which is good as it awaits a more important ruling from the infractions committee. On the flip side, the longer the NCAA is sniffing around a program, the greater chance for trouble.
Unless some red flags surface this week, I'd expect all three players to return for the Miami game.