Despite a No. 4 ranking and the possibility of an undefeated season, the Ohio State Buckeyes are banned from postseason participation as a result of NCAA sanctions. In response to the situation, Buckeyes fans started a federal petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking President Barack Obama to pardon the team, making them eligible to play in the Big Ten championship game, and potentially a national championship contest later.
Ohio State fell under NCAA sanctions last season because of players receiving free tattoos and other gifts in violation of NCAA rules. Among the sanctions were a one-year bowl ban, being enforced this year. The fans who started the petition, Fox Sports reports, feel the punishment isn’t fair. The petition, which has been removed from the site for violating the terms of participation, read:
“The Ohio State University football team is one win away from an undefeated season. However, due to imposed sanctions, they are not allowed to participate in their conference’s championship game or the following bowl season. While a punishment for past indiscretions is to be expected, a bowl season ban is too harsh for a few young men trading memorabilia for tattoos and some change. The offending players and coach who covered it up are no longer part of the program. Please exercise your executive power to pardon the NCAA’s excessive sanctions placed on The Ohio State Buckeyes to enable a rightful, satisfying culmination to the college football season for the American people.”
Larry Brown Sports reports that while Obama may be a bit preoccupied with the situation in Israel, avoiding the fiscal cliff, working with an opposition House, and the Petraeus scandal, Ohio did break for the president in the election. Winning Ohio secured Obama’s reelection, so perhaps Ohio State fans feel he could return the favor.
It wasn’t clear just what terms the petition violated, but it could be that the president has no jurisdiction over the NCAA since it is not a government agency. WhiteHouse.gov also notes in its terms that “to focus discussion, the platform is limited to a discrete set of topics, which may be adjusted over time.”
Either way, the petition has been removed and Ohio State will almost certainly not receive any reprieve. With a few breaks, however, Ohio State could still finish ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
Ohio State fans unhappy with the petition’s removal can always sign one of three currently open petitions still on the site asking the president to allow the state of Ohio to succeed from the union.