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Miami Hurricanes vs. Ohio State: Who won the sanctions game?

The Miami Hurricanes and the Ohio State Buckeyes, two storied college football powerhouses that have recently run afoul of the NCAA, go head to head Saturday night. We’ll know by the end of the night which team is superior on the field. But when it comes to losing money as a result of their respective NCAA investigations, which team will be the winner (loser, actually)?

Here’s how the teams stack up:

Ohio State

The crime: The Buckeyes came under fire last year when players traded autographs, championship rings, and equipment for cash and services at a Columbus tattoo parlor. Head coach Jim Tressel knew about the incident for months, but failed to suspend any of the offending players.

The price: Ohio State forfeited all of its wins from the 2010 season, and the implicated players – Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey, Solomon Thomas, and Terelle Pryor – were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season (Pryor left the Buckeyes to try his luck in the NFL). Those players had to repay the illicit benefits: Adams had to pay back $1,000; Herron $1,150; Posey $1,250; Thomas $1,505; and Pryor $2,500, according to an Ohio State press release.

However, most of the financial punishment fell on Tressel, who was fined $250,000 by the NCAA in March and eventually resigned, giving up a $3.3 million yearly contract with a $450,000 maximum yearly bonus – the sixth highest salary in college football. Tressel’s contract went through 2014, so that’s a loss of approximately $13.2 million, plus bonus money.

The trouble isn’t over for Ohio State. Earlier, this month, three additional players – Jordan Hall, Travis Howard, and Corey Brown – were suspended for the Buckyes’ home opener against Akron for receiving $200 apiece at an unsanctioned Cleveland charity event. They have been cleared to play in Saturday night’s game.


The crime: According to a Yahoo! Sports report released in August, the Hurricanes could be in far deeper trouble than the Buckeyes. Former booster Nevin Shapiro, who is now serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme, alleges that he provided players with millions of dollars in illicit benefits, including parties, expensive dinners, trips to strip clubs, and, in one case, money for an abortion. Shapiro also claims that he offered “bounties” for injuries to key players on opposing teams.

Owing to the long-running, visible nature of Shapiro’s violations, the university could be on the hook for a lack of institutional control.

The price: The true severity of the consequences for the program won’t be apparent until the NCAA wraps up its investigation, which could take several months. But the punishments handed down so far have been directed at players, in the form of suspensions and repayment for improper benefits.

According to the NCAA, the most severe punishments went to defensive lineman Olivier Vernon, who was suspended six games and forced to repay $1,200 in restitution for receiving handouts as a recruit. The other implicated players owe less. Ray Ray Armstrong owes $788; Dyron Dye, $738; Jacory Harris, $140; Sean Spence, $275; Travis Benjamin, $150; Marcus Forston, $400, and Adewale Ojomo, $240.

But what does Miami stand to lose in the long run? The University of Southern California’ s Trojans, who endured their own scandal last year over players receiving improper payment, were banned from postseason bowl play for two years, and lost an estimated 30 athletic scholarships (10 per year for three years).

The University of Miami’s website shows freshman tuition at $36,962 per year, plus fees. So if the football program were to lose 10 full-ride scholarships per year, that’s a $369,620 annual loss in money to recruit players.

Then there’s the postseason money. The ACC conference, of which Miami is a part, gets an automatic bid to the BCS Orange Bowl, which has a $17 million payout to be distributed among members of the participating conference. If Miami is banned from postseason play, they would lose their share, as well as any payout they would get from a lesser bowl game. If they were eighth place in the ACC conference, the worst possible placing to receive a bowl bid, Miami would go to the Military bowl in Washington, D.C., and receive an estimated payout of $862,500. The payouts only go up from there.

Final Score:

Ohio State: approximately $13, 208, 605, (mostly Jim Tressel’s salary).

Miami: $3,931 so far, in player restitutions. But when the NCAA completes its investigation, the losses to the program could be in the millions.

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