NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ohio State players facing five-game suspensions next season would not have traveled with the team to the Sugar Bowl if they had not pledged to return in 2011, head coach Jim Tressel said on Thursday.
The five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been punished by the NCAA for selling championship rings and memorabilia and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor.
Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn't "skirt the consequences" by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring for the NFL draft and avoiding any punishment.
"We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game," Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. "It wouldn't be fair to not face the consequences down the road."
Tressel says their playing time against the Razorbacks will hinge only on how they practice and fit into the game plan.
The other players are tailback Dan Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams, receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas.
Tressel said he had instructed the players not to speak about the NCAA "issue" during Sugar Bowl week because of their pending appeal of the sanctions.