Penn State Football Escapes NCAA 'Death Penalty'
The NCAA imposed $60 million fine, reduced scholarships, and banned bowl appearances.
Stopping short of cancelling the season, the NCAA Monday imposed severe, wide-ranging sanctions against Penn State football in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
“This is just an unprecedented, painful chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert.
The sanctions include:
- $60 million fine, with the money going to set up an endowment to benefit child sex abuse prevention and treatment programs nationwide. The amount is equal to a year's gross football revenue at Penn State.
- 4-year ban on bowl game appearances.
- 4-year reduction in scholarships from 25 to 15. Current scholarship players are free to transfer from Penn State to other schools and immediately play at their new school, if academically eligible.
- All Penn State wins from 1998-2011 are vacated, essentially stripping late coach Joe Paterno of the title of "winningest coach in college football history."
- 5-years probation.
The NCAA also will require Penn State to employ a chief compliance officer. The NCAA will select an ethics integrity monitor who will report to the NCAA as well as to Penn State and the university’s trustees as to the school’s progress.
Also Monday, the Big Ten Conference announced its own sanctions, saying Penn State is not allowed to share the conference's bowl revenues while it's serving the NCAA's postseason ban.
"That money, estimated to be approximately $13 million, will be donated to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children," said a statement issued by the conference.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said the university "accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA. With today’s announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward," he said in a statement posted on Penn State's web site.
The sanctions are meant to "ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry," said Emmert. “For the next several years now Penn State can focus on the work of rebuilding its athletic culture, not the next bowl game.”
Emmert said the NCAA considered the death penalty, a sanction that would have shut the school’s football program for a period of years, but felt it would have brought “harm to many who have nothing to do with this case.”
The sanctions come a day after Penn State removed Paterno's statue from outside Beaver stadium, and are based on former FBI Director Louis Freeh's investigation which concluded that the highest leaders of the university showed a "total disregard for the safety and welfare of children" who were abused by Jerry Sandusky.
Erickson said much work remains to be done, but several reforms have already been implemented.
"It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes," he said.
"We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative."
The Paterno family also released a statement, suggesting the NCAA acted before all of the facts are known.
"The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the (Freeh) report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal. The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best," the family said in its statement.
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