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Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Ohio State will play in bowl if allowed

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If the NCAA allows Ohio State to go to a bowl game, the Buckeyes will pack their bags.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Tuesday that Ohio State would not penalize itself by keeping the football team from making a postseason trip as a way of mitigating potential NCAA sanctions.

In an exchange of text messages with The Associated Press, Smith said, "Cannot speculate on what they (the NCAA) may do. No, we do not intend to self impose a postseason sanction."

There has been speculation that the NCAA might hand Ohio State a bowl ban in addition to its other penalties. College sports' ruling body is still deciding Ohio State's sanctions for several instances of players accepting improper benefits and coach Jim Tressel not revealing knowledge of violations and playing ineligible players. Tressel was forced out on May 30.

Ohio State has offered to vacate its 12-1 record in 2010, return $389,000 from its share of Big Ten bowl receipts last season, go on two years of NCAA probation and surrender five football scholarships over the next three years.

Schools often ban themselves from bowl games as a way of softening the NCAA's eventual sanctions.

In a second letter of allegations sent to Ohio State this fall, the NCAA charged that the school had shown a "failure to monitor" its football program. That was the first time the NCAA had accused Ohio State of a systemic, organizational problem; all previous violations had revolved around individuals breaking NCAA rules.

Ohio State has been under a microscope for almost a year, after it was revealed last December that several Buckeyes football players had accepted cash and free or discounted tattoos from the subject of a federal drug-trafficking investigation. That led to players being suspended at the start of the 2011 season.

When Ohio State subsequently learned that Tressel knew of his players' involvement with the owner of a local tattoo parlor, it suspended him for two games. After that suspension was increased to five games, a steady onslaught of accusations and rumors led to Tressel being pressured to resign.

Star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, one of the players initially suspended for five games for receiving benefits in violation of NCAA bylaws, decided this summer to leave the school for the NFL. He now plays for the Oakland Raiders.

Also this fall, three players were suspended for two games for accepting envelopes containing $200 at a charity event last spring. Four games into the season, more players were suspended -- or had existing suspensions extended -- for getting too much money for too little work at summer jobs.

Ohio State banned the booster who was behind those incidents from contact with athletes.

The Buckeyes (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten) under interim coach Luke Fickell are bowl-eligible going into Saturday's annual rivalry game against Michigan (No. 15 BCS, No. 17 AP) in Ann Arbor, Mich.