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COLUMBUS -- After a painful 6-6 season and a year's worth of scandal and NCAA investigations, the Ohio State football program took its biggest hit Tuesday when the governing body of college athletics slapped the Buckeyes with a bowl ban for 2012 and the loss of nine total scholarships, spread over the next three seasons.
"This decision punishes future students for the actions of others in the past," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement released shortly after the NCAA ruling was announced.
The NCAA sanctions come after a lengthy probe that revealed Ohio State players had taken cash and discounts on tattoos in exchange for jerseys and other memorabilia they sold to a tattoo parlor owner in the amount of $14,000.
As the probe expanded, it discovered that several Buckeyes had received cash from a booster for appearing at a charity golf outing and others had been paid too much for summer jobs offered by the same booster, who has since been banned from the OSU program.
The NCAA infractions committee slapped former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel with a five-year "show-cause" sanction that essentially bans him from college football for that period. Tressel was forced to resign in late May after it was learned he had lied to the NCAA and OSU officials about his knowledge of the tattoo affair.
"Of great concern to the committee was the fact that the former head coach became aware of these violations and decided not to report the violations," the committee report said.
The Buckeyes also received a public reprimand and censure from the NCAA and the program will be on probation for the next three years. The scholarship reduction will limit Ohio State to 82 each of the next three years instead of the normal limit of 85.
"We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA's decision," said Smith, who earlier this year had said a bowl ban would leave him "shocked."
However, Smith added Tuesday that Ohio State would forgo any appeals and accept the NCAA's ruling.
"We need to move forward as an institution," he said. "We recognize that this is a challenging time in intercollegiate athletics. Institutions of higher education must move to higher ground, and Ohio State embraces its leadership responsibilities and affirms its long-standing commitment to excellence in education and integrity in all it does."
New Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who will take over the program following the Buckeyes' January 2nd game with Florida in the Gator Bowl, said he was optimistic that the NCAA sanctions would not negatively impact his recruiting efforts.
"It is still my goal to hire excellent coaches, recruit great student-athletes who want to be a part of this program, and to win on and off the field," Meyer said in a statement released by OSU.
"The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties. I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation."
Tuesday's announcement also included self-imposed sanctions Ohio State already had in place, including vacating the entire 2010 season with its Big Ten championship and Sugar Bowl win, forfeiting more than $338,000 OSU received for the bowl appearance, and disassociating with a former player, believed to be quarterback Terrelle Pryor, for five years.
Contact Matt Markey at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @MattMarkey.