COLUMBUS, OHIO Ohio State was placed on three years' probation Friday, a ruling that wipes out records from four NCAA Tournament appearances by the men's basketball team - including a trip to the 1999 Final Four.
The decision by the NCAA does not affect this season's team, which is 24-4 and ranked seventh in the country. The announcement came about two hours before the top-seeded Buckeyes' quarterfinal game against Penn State in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
The Buckeyes won't be barred from postseason play as a result of using an ineligible player from 1999-2002 under former coach Jim O'Brien. However, the school will have to repay tournament revenues, likely around $800,000, for the four years in which Boban Savovic played. He received improper gifts, including housing and cash, from a booster.
Ohio State must take down the 1999 Final Four banner which hangs from the rafters in Value City Arena.
"The positives are closure," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in Indianapolis. "We're going into the Big Ten tournament, and we want our student-athletes to have the opportunity to participate in this tournament understanding there won't be any sanctions they have to deal with. ... They can play without that stress."
The NCAA came down hard on O'Brien and former assistant coach Paul Biancardi, now the head coach at Wright State. If O'Brien gets a job at another college in the next five years, he and his new school must appear before the NCAA's infractions committee to discuss whether he will face additional limitations.