COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An NCAA investigation into rules infractions by the Ohio State football program has delayed release of the team's 2010 "gold pants" charms, awards that team members receive if they beat rival Michigan.
The Gold Pants Club that distributes the trinkets is waiting to see if the NCAA vacates any of last season's wins, President Jim Lachey, a former Ohio State All-America offensive lineman, told The Columbus Dispatch for a Sunday story. The university-licensed club pays about $50 each for the charms.
Ohio State has suspended five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, for the first five games of the 2011 season for violating NCAA rules by selling a Columbus tattoo parlor owner several pieces of memorabilia -- including the 2008 gold pants charm Pryor earned for the 2008 season.
A letter from a U.S. attorney sent in December stated Ohio State players had received between $12,000 and $15,000 in cash, free tattoos and reduced-price tattoos for providing the merchandise, some of which was signed.
Coach Jim Tressel failed to reveal that he knew about the players' violations, as required by his contract and NCAA rules, and the university suspended him for five games. He also was fined $250,000, required to make a public apology and receive a public reprimand and to attend an NCAA compliance seminar.
The NCAA is still investigating the 10-year coach of the Buckeyes, and the university goes before the association's infractions committee in August. The NCAA has said penalties could include vacating wins from last season.
"We're dealing with some outstanding issues that we've never had to deal with before," Lachey told The Dispatch. "If they vacate the win, it makes no sense to award the gold pants, at least in our minds. And if you hand them out and say, 'Oh yeah, we'll need to get them back if the win is vacated' -- I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a smart way to go."
Ohio State beat Michigan 37-7 in November for an unprecedented seventh straight win over the Wolverines.
Lachey said he's also considering withholding the charms in the future until players are no longer on the team and have used up their eligibility to play, when selling the items would no longer be an NCAA violation.
The practice of awarding the gold pants charms started after coach Francis Schmidt took over the program in 1934.
John Hicks, an All-America offensive lineman under coach Woody Hayes, said he was bothered to see team members bartering them.
"They are a symbol of being part of a special team, of a bunch of guys who worked hard for a common goal of beating our rival," he said. "Sometimes when you're 18, 19, 20 years old, you don't realize what that really meant to you, but when you get to 60 or so, you do."