According to the Ohio State press release, the three received impermissible benefits of $300 or less each in total at a charity event they attended earlier in the year.
OSU self-reported the violation.
"We take this matter seriously," athletic director Gene Smith said in the statement. "Our commitment to institutional integrity is steadfast, and we must hold everyone associated with our athletics programs accountable for lapses in judgment. We believe in transparency with the NCAA, all regulatory bodies and all of Buckeye Nation."
The university will have no further comment.
The three will be suspended for the team's opener vs. the Zips but could return as early as a Sept. 10 game against Toledo in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State has applied for the players' reinstatement for the rest of the 2011 season but also could apply an institutional punishment to the players.
Howard, who is coming off an impressive spring and fall camp, is the most high-profile player of the ground. The team's most experienced cornerback, the junior played in 10 games last year, making 13 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Hall was also expected to start at tailback against the Zips. The junior was second on the team in all-purpose yards per game in 2010 and was expected to fill key roles at tailback, slot receiver and as a return man.
Brown is coming off a 2010 season that ended with knee surgery. A member of the team's kickoff coverage unit, Brown is also a second-team safety.
Ohio State was already without running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, Leo end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Jordan Whiting for the game for their part in the memorabilia and tattoo scandal that rocked the university in December and eventually led to Jim Tressel's ouster in May after it was found he did not report details of the situation to appropriate university officials.
Offensive lineman Corey Linsley is also serving a two-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Former linebackers coach Luke Fickell will make his head coaching debut vs. Akron.