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Tressel: Suspended juniors to return for senior seasons

Andy Gottesman / Lantern photographer

The five juniors suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season pledged to return for their senior seasons, coach Jim Tressel told the media Thursday.

Tressel said he required each player to commit to staying a Buckeye for one more year before granting them permission to travel with the team.

The NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas last week after learning the players had violated NCAA rules by selling gear, apparel and memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor in 2009.

The players must also repay between $1,000 and $2,500 each.

Freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended one game and ordered to repay $150.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes from receiving benefits or discounts based on their status.

The suspensions, however, were pushed back until the start of next season after the NCAA decided the rules education offered by the OSU compliance department was not up to NCAA standards at the time the players sold the merchandise.

“They are in the family, they are on the trip, they want to be Buckeyes in 2011,” Tressel said. “They are very remorseful for judgments they have made and they are anxious to have a great experience at the Allstate Sugar Bowl as all of us are.”

Posey announced his intention to stay for his senior year during a press conference Tuesday in which the five apologized to Buckeye Nation.

Should any of the five forgo his senior season, he would escape NCAA punishment.

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“If indeed they wanted to stay a part of our family and make the trip and have a chance to participate in one of the greatest games of all time, the Sugar Bowl, they would have to make any decisions based upon their future NFL [career] prior to us going to the bowl game,” Tressel said. “We didn’t think it would be fair to the NCAA or fair to the other people involved in the process that if someone were able to participate and have no consequences down the road.

“Those decisions were made by our young people and I am excited to say that all the guys that were involved, knowing that they had options, like playing in this game and leaving, in their minds that could have been an option but it wasn’t.”

The players sold Big Ten championship rings, jerseys and gold pants charms they received after beating Michigan.

Disappointed that his players would relinquish such significant memorabilia, Tressel sent the group to the home of former Buckeye and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.

“They said, ‘Coach, how can we let the former players know that we feel terrible about what we did?'” Tressel said. “And I said, ‘Gosh, I don’t know. Archie Griffin is the head of our alumni association, the CEO, and his office is across the street. Go see if he’ll take a visit.’ He wasn’t in the office that day, but he said, ‘You know what, come out to my house.’ He said, ‘The kids might get a different perspective when they look at my basement and see how important some of those things are to me.'”

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