The NCAA announced significant penalties against Penn State and its football program, including a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine, in the wake of the child sexual-abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA announced significant penalties against Penn State and its football program Monday, including a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine, in the wake of the child sexual-abuse scandal involving ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The NCAA stopped short of shutting down Penn State’s program, but officials insisted the breadth and significance of the penalties were nearly as debilitating. It is expected to be almost a decade before Penn State will be in a position to attempt to regain its place as one of the sport’s elite programs.
The punishment also included the loss of 10 scholarships per year for the next four years, with a limit of 65 total scholarship players on the roster, as opposed to the typical 85, beginning with the 2014 season. The university must vacate all of its victories from 1998 to 2011, meaning the late Joe Paterno is no longer the major-college career leader in coaching victories. The university was also placed on probation for five years.
In announcing the penalties, Mark Emmert, the NCAA president and previously president at the University of Washington, called the case the most painful “chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” and said it could be argued the punishment was “greater than any other seen in NCAA history.”
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He said Penn State accepted the penalties when they were presented.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson told the Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa.: “We had our backs to the wall on this. We did what we thought was necessary to save the program.”
The move angered at least one member of the school’s board of trustees.
“I think we rolled over and played dead,” said Anthony Lubrano, who was elected several months after Sandusky’s November arrest. “I’m outraged that the university signed a consent agreement without bringing it to the board. I think it’s fair to say several board members feel the same.”
The postseason ban and the scholarship restrictions essentially prevent the program from fielding a team that can be competitive in the Big Ten Conference.
“For the next several years, Penn State can focus on rebuilding its athletic culture, not on whether it’s going to a bowl game,” Emmert said.
On the topic of a win-at-all-costs mentality, Ed Ray, Oregon State’s president and chairman of the NCAA executive committee, said, “We’ve had enough.”
The NCAA will allow Penn State players to transfer to and immediately play at other universities, inviting the possibility of an exodus. The players can transfer now or after the 2012 season.
Penn State will be able to extend 15 scholarships per year, as opposed to the normal 25. Perhaps more important is the ban on postseason play, which takes away one of the most attractive aspects of playing for a successful team.
Big Ten officials said Penn State will not share in conference bowl revenues from the next four seasons, costing the school an estimated $13 million.
Penn State football in 2011 turned a profit of $53 million, money that funded the university’s other sports, few of which generate substantial revenue. The NCAA ruling mandated no sports could be eliminated while Penn State pays off the $60 million, which will be done in five annual installments.
The sanctions will test the commitment of the players, coaches and recruits tied to the Penn State program, which is almost certain to enter a period of irrelevancy on the field. Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, set to enter his first season, pledged his commitment to the program.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” he said.
The last Penn State victory that will officially count came in 1997. The quarterback of that Nittany Lions team was Mike McQueary, who — as part of the coaching staff — became an integral part of the investigation into Sandusky after witnessing him sexually assaulting a boy in the showers of the football building.
Paterno, who was fired in November and died in January, lost 111 victories and has 298. Thus ex-Grambling coach Eddie Robinson leads Division I coaches with 408 victories and ex-Florida State coach Bobby Bowden leads at the highest level of college football with 377.
Bowden said “there’s no rejoicing in the Bowden household right now” and added the NCAA penalties against Penn State “cannot replace those boys who were molested.”
The Paterno family issued a statement that said in part: “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 NCAA’s penalty is the latest action to stem from the scandal involving Sandusky, who was convicted last month of being a serial pedophile. The November release of a grand-jury report detailing Sandusky’s actions led to the firing of Paterno; the removal of the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier; and charges against two other top university officials.
|Coaches with most victories in Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football.|
|Amos Alonzo Stagg||57||314|
|* Paterno’s total reflects the removal of 111 victories from his record after Monday’s NCAA sanctions.|