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Ohio State gets NCAA Probation, Other Penalties

Ohio State has been placed on three years' probation by the NCAA. Several rules violations under former basketball head coach Jim O'Brien will also cost the university some $800,000, wipe out records from four conference tournaments and erase a trip to the 1999 Final Four.

At an off-campus sports bar fans took today's bad news a little easier with Ohio State's come-from-behind victory over Penn State, 63-to-56, in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The Buckeyes won't be barred from the postseason for using an ineligible player from 1999 through 2002. But the university will have to repay about $800,000 of tournament revenue from that four-year period. Chris Bachus said he believes the decision is fair one.

"Ohio State, I mean they couldn't control what O'Brien was doing and I think that when they forfeited last year not to go to the tournament, that was fair enough," Bachus says.

The NCAA cited nine Ohio State violations -- seven under former basketball coach Jim O'Brien who was fired in June, 2004. O'Brien gave $6,000 to the mother of a junior college player from Eastern Europe who never joined the team. Buckeye Slobodan Savovic received benefits in violation of NCAA rules. Infractions committee representative Josephine Potuto says O'Brien and assistant coach Paul Biancardi deliberately withheld information.

"Of particular concern to the committee was the pattern by both former coaches of failing to provide information in a timely fashion to the institution. Providing information only when it was clear that the information was going to be made known," Potuto says.

In a teleconference this afternoon from Boston, O'Brien said he was extremely hurt' by the NCAA's characterizations.

"We've never cheated; I've never paid a kid a nickel to come to a place that I've ever been. I know what I did; I know why I did it. And if that's so bad then this is the result, O'Brien says.

O'Brien said he would absolutely appeal' the conference findings. He said he won't seek another collegiate coaching position because of them.

In Indianapolis Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith called the sanctions "extremely serious," but was glad the two-year investigation had come to an end. In Columbus, Buckeyes fan Tom Schultz felt the same.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's ancient history. We've got a good team this year and we have good prospects for next year and it's time to move on," Shultz says.

Ohio State is on probation for the next three years. The NCAA did not impose penalties on this season's team. Two scholarships had already been eliminated by Ohio State.