2007-09 Buckeye Disputes ‘I Didn’t Know’ Defense

In its decision last Thursday to allow five Ohio State football players to play in the Sugar Bowl - despite suspending the same players for five games each for the 2011 season - the NCAA cited the fact that the players did not know they were breaking NCAA rules when they sold Ohio State player-only items to Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

(Tattooed Gibson was teammates with the guilty players)

From the NCAA release:

The decision from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff does not include a withholding condition for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The withholding condition was suspended and the student-athletes will be eligible to play in the bowl game Jan. 4 based on several factors.

These include the acknowledgment the student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith also made clear during a press conference to announce the NCAA penalties that his compliance staff had fell down on the job when it came to making it known to players that they couldn’t sell such items.

We were not explicit with these young men that you could not resell items that we give you. We began to be more explicit in November 2009.”

On the same day Ohio State and the NCAA claimed OSU player ignorance of the rules, the Buckeye football player with the most tattoos on the team between 2007-09, Thaddeus Gibson, said that Ohio State football players during the time in question were repeatedly (explicitly) informed of the NCAA rule in question. Read more…