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NCAA hits Ohio State with bowl ban, other sanctions

(Reuters) - The NCAA on Tuesday barred Ohio State University's football team from post-season play in 2012 as punishment for a scandal over players accepting cash and discounted tattoos in exchange for signed Buckeyes memorabilia.

The NCAA also publicly reprimanded and censured Ohio State, put the team on three-year probation beginning immediately and cut the number of football scholarships the school can offer through the 2014-15 academic year.

An NCAA probe of Ohio state began a year ago after law enforcement authorities searching the suburban Columbus, Ohio home of a tattoo parlor owner, discovered a cache of OSU football memorabilia.

NCAA investigators subsequently discovered that several players on OSU Coach Jim Tressel's 2010 team, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, had traded the memorabilia. The probe found that they traded championship rings and uniforms for cash in violation of strict rules governing amateur college athletes.

Pryor and several other players were suspended and Tressel resigned.

Gene Smith, Ohio State's Athletic Director and Associate Vice President, said on Tuesday the school was "surprised and disappointed" by the NCAA's decision but would not appeal "because we need to move forward as an institution.'

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune)