COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The NCAA suspended Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey for five games Friday — leaving him with only two regular-season games in his senior season — and three other Buckeyes for one game for taking too much money for a summer job.
Offensive lineman Marcus Hall, defensive lineman Melvin Fellows and last year's leading rusher, Daniel Herron, will miss this week's game at No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday. They also must repay benefits after receiving pay for work not performed from booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who has been banned from any further contact with Ohio State athletes.
Posey, already forced to sit out the first five games, will not return until Ohio State's home game against Penn State on Nov. 19. He will be able to play against the Nittany Lions and also the following week, the annual matchup with archrival Michigan that concludes the regular season.
"I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA's decision regarding Devier Posey," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. "This penalty is harsh considering the nature of the violation and the five-game suspension already served by this student-athlete."
Posey's attorney was angry at the severity of the penalty.
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I have not had anything that I think has incensed me more," Columbus lawyer Larry James.
According to the NCAA, Posey was overpaid $728. Herron and Fellows both accepted approximately $290 in excess pay while Hall received $230 in overpayment.
Posey and Herron already had been suspended five games for accepting cash and tattoos from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner.
All but Posey will be available to play at Illinois a week from Saturday, although Fellows is out with a medical issue.
In its decision, the NCAA noted the overpayment occurred over an extended period of time.
James said he had records which proved that the players worked and were not substantially overpaid.
"My hard evidence and common sense and logic from 30-plus years of practice tells me (the NCAA's decision) is not supported by sound, reliable information and documentation," he said. "We were able to document that all these players had worked the hours that they had said. Even if we were to concede where there might be holes, less than five hours are in dispute. That takes them under 100 bucks. In DeVier Posey's situation, (the NCAA) just absolutely disregarded evidence that any person with common sense would accept. Why they did it, I do not know."
Herron, Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas, along with star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Dorian Bell, were suspended last December for the first five games this fall. Bell has since transferred to Duquesne.
All were found to have received cash and free or discounted tattoos from Edward Rife, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering and drug trafficking unrelated to the Ohio State case and is awaiting sentencing.
Herron, Posey, Adams and Thomas were originally set to rejoin the team this week. Adams and Thomas have been cleared to play against Nebraska.
When Ohio State went before the NCAA's committee on infractions on Aug. 12, the major issue was the players who took improper benefits from Rife and the actions (or inaction) of then-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. Tressel, the Buckeyes' successful coach for 10 years, was forced to resign because he did not tell his superiors when he found out about possible violations. He used ineligible players throughout the 2010 season.
Soon after Tressel was pushed out, Pryor left school a year early to jump to the NFL and is now a member of the Oakland Raiders, although is suspended by the NFL due to his problems at Ohio State and his unconventional route to the league.
James said he believed the NCAA was harder on Posey because of his friendship with Pryor, who was at the center of several areas of investigation when he announced he was leaving Ohio State.
"My hunch is for some reason they have discredited him because he was close to Terrelle," James said. "I think that's what it is. As a result of that, they don't want to believe anything that we put forward. But I can't prove that."
DiGeronimo helped run an annual charity event which led to three other players being suspended for the first two games this season.
Ohio State is awaiting the NCAA's report of sanctions for the Tressel/tattoo violations. Smith said this week he expected the NCAA to announce final penalties late this year, perhaps in December.
The university has offered penalties including vacating the 2010 season's 12-1 record, returning bowl payments totaling almost $339,000 from last season, and accepting a two-year NCAA probation. The NCAA could add to those penalties based on all of the subsequent violations and suspensions.
The NCAA also determined Posey accepted approximately $100 in golf fees from another individual, which it called "a preferential treatment violation."
Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/rustymillerap