INDIANAPOLIS – The day after former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno’s statue came down at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., the NCAA announced the punishments levied against the university’s football program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“As we, the executive committee, Division I board and I, have examined and discussed this case, we’ve kept foremost in our thoughts the tragic damage that has been done to the victims and their families,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “No matter what we do here today, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish.”
During a press conference, Emmert and Oregon State President Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee, announced four specific sanctions against PSU.
“Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture and daily mind set in which football will never again be place ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said. “The association exists not simply to promote fair play on the field but insist that athletic programs provide positive moral models for our students, enhance the integrity of higher education, and promote the values of civility, honesty and responsibility.”
The university must pay a fine of $60 million, with the funds to be used for an endowment that supports child sex abuse prevention programs around the nation. The fines were based on the average annual revenue of Penn State’s football program, the NCAA said.
Emmert said money to pay the fines must not impact other athletic programs or athletic scholarships.
Penn State will also be banned from postseason play for the next four years.
Additionally, the football program will incur a reduction in scholarships over the next four seasons. They will have a maximum of 15 scholarships to offer per season, 10 less than the maximum allowed, starting in 2013.
For a four-year period that begins in 2014, the program will be forced to reduce the number of student-athletes with scholarships on the roster per season from 85 to 65,
To soften the blow on current Nittany Lion players, the NCAA relaxed transfer rules.
“In order to minimize a negative impact on student-athletes, the NCAA will allow any entering or returning student-athlete to transfer and immediately compete at a transfer university, provided he is otherwise eligible,” Emmert said.
From a records standpoint, Penn State must vacate all wins (112) from 1998-2011, including six bowl wins and two conference championships.
The sanction also drops Joe Paterno’s career wins total by 111. Penn State finished last season 1-3 under Tom Bradley after Paterno was fired in November.
Paterno’s career record is now 298-136-3, which is fifth all-time in FBS history.
“The 1998 date was selected because that was when the first reported incidents of abuse occurred and that is when the failure to respond appropriately began,” Emmert said. “It seemed both to me and the executive committee that was the appropriate beginning date.”
Penn State's athletic department is also on probation for five years, during which they must work with an athletic-integrity monitor of the NCAA’s choosing.
“The NCAA is reserving the right to initiate a formal investigation and disciplinary processes to impose sanctions as needed on individuals involved in this case, after the completions of criminal proceedings,” Emmert said.
In addition to these punishments, the NCAA will require the university to adopt the formal reforms spelled out in the Freeh report. Furthermore, the university must enter into an athletic integrity agreement with the NCAA and the Big Ten.
The Freeh report was a result of a Penn State commissioned investigation by former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh. In the report, Freeh found that Paterno, along with Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley and former President Graham Spanier, failed to protect the victims of the child sex abuse scandal.
“In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University, Mr. Spanier, Shultz, Paterno and Curley, repeatedly concealed facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, board of trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at-large,” Freeh said during a July 12 press conference.
Penn State agreed with the findings of the Freeh report.
President Emmert, the Executive Committee and the Division I board discussed the so-called “death penalty”, Emmert said. They felt a multi-year suspension would be appropriate, but wanted to force a cultural change.
A suspension of the football program would have a profound impact on many who were not involved in the case, Emmert said.
Chairman Ray opened the press conference by calling the actions by the NCAA historically unprecedented and that they were warranted by the conspiracy of silence.
“The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down,” Ray said.