COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State players broke the rules and got to play in the Sugar Bowl anyway. Jim Tressel knew about infractions and let it all happen.
Now the Buckeyes and new coach Urban Meyer will pay for it next year.
The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban and additional penalties Tuesday for violations that started with eight players taking a total of $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other Buckeyes memorabilia.
Tressel was tipped off about the violations in April 2010 but didn't tell anyone — even after the athletes got caught last December but were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl if they served suspensions to start the 2011 season. Among those in the group: starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and leading rusher Daniel "Boom" Herron.
Tressel's silence damaged OSU in the eyes of the NCAA and the result is that the Buckeyes — now under Meyer, who won two national championships at Florida — will watch next year's bowl games on TV.
"Had we known what (Tressel) knew, we would not have played those young men in that bowl game," said an emotional Gene Smith, Ohio State's athletic director.
Forced out in May and now on the staff of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Tressel was called out by the NCAA for unethical conduct.
The university had previously offered to vacate the 2010 season, return bowl money, go on two years of NCAA probation and use five fewer scholarships over three years.
The NCAA imposed the postseason ban, more limits on scholarships and an extra year of probation.
"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. "The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties."
Ohio State's original violations — which grew out of players' relationship with a Columbus tattoo parlor owner who was under federal investigation in a drug-trafficking case — were exacerbated because the school and the NCAA discovered two more problems — after OSU faced the committee on infractions in August.
Three players were suspended just before the season for taking $200 from booster Bobby DiGeronimo. Then it was revealed that several players got too much money for too little work on summer jobs supplied by the same booster. He has been disassociated from the program.
The NCAA found Ohio State failed to monitor its athletic programs.
Smith had said throughout that there was no way the Buckeyes would be banned from a bowl in the 2012 season. He also had refused to surrender a bowl invitation this season — the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl against Florida — in order to save next year's.
"I never went there because we were confident we would not get a bowl-game ban," Smith said. "We were wrong."
Tressel was pressured to resign this summer after 10 years, and Luke Fickell was interim coach until Meyer was tabbed last month.
NCAA punishment hits Ohio State
In a ruling Tuesday by the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions, Ohio State was cited for failure to monitor, preferential treatment and extra benefit violations in football. Former coach Jim Tressel, left, was found to have engaged in unethical conduct. Here are the penalties:
. One-year bowl ban for the 2012 postseason.
. Reduction of football scholarships from 85 to 82 over each of the next three seasons. Total scholarship reduction of nine.
. Three years of probation from Tuesday through Dec. 19, 2014.
. Five-year show cause order for Tressel, making it tough for him to coach in college during this period.
. Vacating of all wins for the 2010 football regular season, including the Big Ten co-championship and Sugar Bowl victory.
. Forfeiture of $338,811 the university received through the Big Ten for appearing in the Sugar Bowl.
. Disassociation with a booster for 10 years.
. Disassociation with a former player, believed to be Terrelle Pryor, for five years.