Indianapolis — Ohio State has made it through its meeting with the NCAA committee on infractions. Now the Buckeyes have to play the 2011 season knowing that just before their annual showdown against rival Michigan, they could get slapped with a bowl ban.
School officials appeared Friday before the infractions committee, which heard how players received improper benefits from a tattoo-shop owner and how ex-coach Jim Tressel learned of those NCAA violations and covered them up. The bottom line: Tressel used players throughout the 2010 season he knew were ineligible.
“We look forward to the committee’s report in eight to 12 weeks,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement afterward. Most such decisions are rendered in six to eight weeks.
If it takes three months, that would mean Ohio State will receive word on penalties in the second week of November — shortly before the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor for their annual all-or-nothing game with Michigan on Nov. 26.
Friday’s meeting took only four hours, with the 10-member committee not even breaking for lunch. That could be a sign the panel, chaired by Mideastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dennis Thomas, had few questions and largely accepted Ohio State’s version of events following months of investigation.
The school also announced it will repay the $338,811 it received for playing in the Sugar Bowl, a 31-26 victory over Arkansas. Previously, Smith had said Ohio State’s proposed sanctions — the departure of Tressel, player suspensions, vacating the 2010 season including the Sugar Bowl win and going on two years of NCAA probation — were severe. But Ohio State changed its self-imposed penalties shortly before the hearing.
Not only could the NCAA committee tack on a bowl ban, it could also limit the Buckeyes’ number of recruits, among other possibilities. The NCAA has informed Ohio State that the two most serious findings it could hit the school with — lack of institutional control and failure to monitor players and coaches — are off the board based on information it has received so far.
Packers make White House visit
Washington — Welcoming the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers to the White House was no easy task for President Barack Obama.
The president is a die-hard fan of the Packers’ rivals, the Chicago Bears, the team Green Bay beat in last year’s conference championship game to move on to the Super Bowl.
“I’m just gonna come out and say it,” Obama said. “This hurts a little bit. This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn’t hurt as much as the NFC championship game hurt, but it still hurts.”
But in the spirit of sportsmanship, the president welcomed the Packers and some of their fans to the White House Friday. He praised the team for overcoming a slew of injuries throughout the season as they marched toward their fourth Super Bowl victory. And he recognized their work in the Green Bay community, citing their millions of dollars raised for charity, scholarships given to local students and support of service members and their families.
The Packers visit to the White House had been delayed because of the National Football League lockout, which ended last month.
Bills trade WR Evans to Ravens
Baltimore — The Ravens made their long-awaited move to upgrade at wide receiver Friday, trading a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for Lee Evans.
The acquisition of one of the NFL’s most consistent deep threats should quell the teeth-gnashing after Malcom Floyd re-signed with the San Diego Chargers and Derrick Mason defected to the New York Jets.
Jets’ Burress out vs. Texans
Florham Park, N.J. — It’s a no go for Plaxico Burress in the New York Jets’ preseason opener.
An MRI on Friday revealed that the wide receiver has a sprained left ankle, and he won’t play against the Texans on Monday or even fly with the team to Houston.
OSU’s Gundy fires man for OU shirt
Stillwater, Okla. — A carpenter says he has learned his lesson: Don’t wear rival colors to Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy’s house.
Gundy is being sued by a contractor who says he agreed to work on the coach’s home in March. Brent Loveland of Choctaw says he arrived early in the morning on March 21 wearing a gray “Oklahoma Baseball” T-shirt with the university’s name in red block letters. He and two others began to unload their equipment.
According to the lawsuit, Gundy arrived at the house at 9:30 a.m. and spotted Loveland’s shirt. “How dare you come into my house and offend my wife,” Gundy allegedly said.
Gundy then allegedly used profanity as he told the contractor to get off his property. He allegedly called Loveland a “stupid idiot” for wearing the shirt on “OSU soil,” and refused Loveland’s apologies. The contractor offered to turn his shirt inside-out, but was refused, according to the lawsuit.
Arkansas RB Davis out for season
Fayetteville, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino confirmed Friday that running back Knile Davis is expected to miss the season because of a left ankle injury.
The injury is a major blow to the preseason expectations for the Razorbacks, who were 10-3 and reached their first BCS bowl game last season. Davis was hurt in the scrimmage portion of practice on Thursday and was carted off the field without being able to put weight on his left leg.
Zambrano walks out on Cubs
Atlanta — Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade says Carlos Zambrano cleaned out his locker and “walked out” on the team after giving up five homers in Friday night’s 10-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Quade says he is really disappointed in Zambrano and says the pitcher is talking about retiring.
Zambrano (9-7) gave up eight runs and eight hits. The five homers set a career high.
Zambrano was ejected by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the fifth inning after throwing two inside pitches to Chipper Jones, the second going all the way to the backstop. The brush-back pitches followed homers by Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla.