- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Almost a year to the day since NCAA violations came to light, Ohio State will learn its penalties.

Athletic director Gene Smith confirmed to The Associated Press early Tuesday that the NCAA’s committee on infractions would hand down its final sanctions of the Ohio State athletic program at 3 p.m. EST.

The NCAA was set to hold a teleconference at that time.

Five players were suspended last Dec. 23 for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting cash and tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor. Coach Jim Tressel was subsequently forced to resign for knowing about the violations but not reporting them to his superiors, then playing the athletes throughout the 2010 season despite the risk that they were ineligible.

Based on precedent, Tressel will likely receive a “show-cause” order. That means that any university wishing to hire him will need to go before the NCAA to make a strong case as to why. Any school hiring him could face penalties.

NCAA investigators later uncovered two more violations involving Buckeyes players accepting improper benefits, each time leading to suspensions.

The NCAA tagged Ohio State with a “failure to monitor” charge _ the second-most serious charge it can levy against an institution _ in light of the additional violations.

Ohio State has offered to vacate the 2010 season, return its share of bowl money, go on probation and accept minor recruiting restrictions, costing it five scholarships over the next three years. The NCAA could add to those penalties, possibly piling on more recruiting restrictions or even a bowl ban.

The Buckeyes (6-6) struggled through a year of suspensions and close games under interim coach Luke Fickell. They play Florida on Jan. 2 in the Gator Bowl.

Urban Meyer was hired last month as the new head coach. He is not coaching in the bowl game but has been recruiting and hiring staff members.

He was asked Monday whether, after three weeks on the job, he now had a better feel for what the ultimate sanctions might be from the NCAA. He said he was given indications _ but no promises _ that the penalties would not be severe.

“I just did a lot of research. I contacted people outside of Ohio State before I accepted the position and I wanted to hear from some trusted people that I have within the NCAA and other people who dealt directly with the NCAA,” Meyer said. “It came back _ I wouldn’t use the word `assurance,’ because who knows? _ but when you start talking about the overall integrity of the institution, it’s a positive. There were some mistakes made that were serious. I haven’t had any assurance about what’s going to happen.”

Ohio State is considered a repeat offender, since the tattoo problems arose while it was still under probation from violations committed in the men’s basketball program under Jim O’Brien. Smith has long said it would be difficult to predict the final sanctions this time because the repeat violator tag opens the possibility of almost any resolution.

Dennis Thomas, who is commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and also the chairman of the committee on infractions, was scheduled to participate in the 3 p.m. teleconference along with Greg Sankey, a committee member who is an associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

Ohio State had a hearing before the committee in August then had to face another hearing this fall after new violations were revealed.


Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap.

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