COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Records released by Ohio State University say three football players suspended for the opening game against Akron violated NCAA rules by taking $200 at a Cleveland charity event earlier this year.
All three -- starting tailback Jordan Hall and cornerback Travis Howard and backup safety Corey Brown -- have been cleared to play in the 15th-ranked Buckeyes' game against Toledo on Saturday.
The records released Thursday night indicate the athletes gave varying accounts for why they received the money and who they received it from.
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.
A joint Ohio State-NCAA investigation discovered the violation on Aug. 31.
When it announced the violations and suspensions on Sept. 1, some 48 hours before the Buckeyes' 42-0 season-opening win over Akron, the school added that it might add to the players' penalties.
On Thursday, interim Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said he and his staff had not yet decided what to do with the players. But he spoke as if the suspended players would have to earn playing time and would not step right back in as starters.
"I don't think we've said any stipulations publicly on what we'll do with them," Fickell said. "Our (other) guys played well last week. It's their jobs. We want to make sure that (those other players) know we have confidence in them. It's not like we're going to bounce around from week to week. If (the other players) do a good job throughout the week, we're going to continue to go with them."
Ohio State is awaiting word from the NCAA's committee on infractions on what penalties it will receive for unrelated violations from 2010 involving football players who traded memorabilia for cash with the subject of a federal drug-trafficking probe. Four current players are sitting out the first five games as their penalty for receiving thousands of dollars in cash and discounted tattoos.
The investigation into the scandal led to Ohio State forcing 10-year head coach Jim Tressel to resign in May after he admitted that he had known that players had likely accepted improper benefits. Despite being required to disclose such information by his contract and also by NCAA rules, he did not pass on that information to his superiors for more than 10 months.
Ohio State has offered to vacate the 2010 season, in which it went 12-1, because Tressel played players that he would reasonably expect to be declared ineligible.
The university's hearing before the committee on infractions took place on Aug. 12 in Indianapolis. A decision on the final sanctions could come as early as this month or as late as November.
Earlier on Thursday, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said he did not know when the sanctions would be announced.
"You know as much about that as I do," Gee said. "We have had our hearing and we're just waiting until their ruling comes down."