Former coach Joe Paterno will have 111 of his wins restored and the historic $60 million fine imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal will be restructured, NCAA officials said Friday.
The deal ends at least two of the ongoing legal battles that erupted after the 2012 sanctions were imposed and marks a victory for thousands of Penn State alumni and supporters of the late coach and his teams. It again makes Paterno, who died in January 2012, the winningest coach in major college football history.
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, who brought one of the lawsuits challenging the sanctions, called it "a total repeal" of the consent decree both sides signed about six months after allegations emerged that Sandusky, a longtime Paterno assistant, was a serial pedophile.
"Today is a victory for due process, which was not afforded in this case," said Corman, whose district includes the main Penn State campus. "Today is a victory for the people of Pennsylvania. Today is a victory for Penn State Nation. The NCAA has surrendered."
The news broke as the lawsuit by Corman and State Treasurer Rob McCord was poised to go trial next month in Commonwealth Court. The settlement was quickly approved by officials from the NCAA and Penn State, whose governing bodies met Friday in State College and Washington.
"Continuing this litigation would further delay the distribution of funds to child sexual abuse survivors for years, undermining the very intent of the fine," said Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina president and a member of the NCAA Board of Governors.
In its announcement, the NCAA said the deal replaces the 2012 consent decree but that the university "acknowledges NCAA's legitimate and good faith interest and concern regarding the Jerry Sandusky matter."
It also said the school would enter into an "athletic integrity agreement" that included retaining former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell as a monitor.
The NCAA said that under the new deal Penn State agreed "to commit a total of $60 million to activities and programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse and the treatment of victims of child sexual abuse."
It did not specify where or how the money would be spent, but Corman said the money will be spent on programs and services in Pennsylvania.
Still looming are other legal battles — civil and criminal — that flowed from the Sandusky case and its aftermath. A spokesman for Paterno's family released a statement praising Corman and McCord but pledging to continue the fight to clear the coach's name.
"For nearly three years, everyone associated with Penn State has had to bear the mark of shame placed upon the institution by the NCAA," the family statement said. "It was a grievously wrong action, precipitated by panic, rather than a thoughtful and careful examination of the facts."