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.

From a report assembled by Zack Meisel and James Oldham of the OHIO STATE LANTERN last Thursday and published early Friday:

The OSU players in questions are using a common answer, the same answer that Newton used in the midst of his scandal. Basically, they didn’t know they were in the wrong.

While it’s possible that the players are telling the truth, former Buckeye defensive starter and current San Francisco 49er Thaddeus Gibson said that they were told not to sell personal items fairly often. Gibson played for OSU from 2007-09.

Oh yeah, they (OSU athletic director Gene Smith and the coaches) talked about it a lot,” Gibson said Thursday in a phone interview with The Lantern.

This would appear to contradict what Gene Smith said Thursday, unless those warnings didn’t start occurring until November 2009.

Wednesday I reported that multiple current Ohio State football players had gotten tattoos at the Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor in Columbus. I did not include Gibson at the time of that report because he was not a present member of the team.

That said, while he was a player at Ohio State, Gibson got tattoo work done at the same Fine Line Ink establishment that led to the subsequent suspensions of five current Ohio State players.

Antonio Pittman Tweet: Ohio State players getting tattoo hookups since 2001

Gibson is the second Ohio State player to contradict statements made by Ohio State AD Smith. Also last Thursday, despite Smith assuring the media that the NCAA violations involving the tattoo parlor were “isolated”, former Buckeye Antonio Pittman Tweeted that OSU football players had been getting “hookups” on tattoos “since 2001″.

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