NCAA gives Penn St. slow death
- Article by: TOM COYNE and RALPH D. RUSSO
- Associated Press
- July 24, 2012 - 7:00 AM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Wiped out in the record book. Wiped out in the wallet. Wiped out in the ability to recruit, and keep what it already has. Penn State got slammed by the NCAA on Monday in every way.
The governing body of college sports took away 14 years of coach Joe Paterno's victories and imposed a mountain of fines and penalties, crippling a program whose pedophile assistant coach spent years molesting children, sometimes on school property. The sanctions imposed by the NCAA on Monday also include fines of $60 million, orders for Penn State to sit out the postseason for four years, capped scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years and placed football on five years' probation.
Current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school.
The NCAA's sanctions following the worst scandal in the history of college football stopped short of delivering the "death penalty" -- shutting down the sport completely. It actually did everything but kill it.
"The sanctions needed to reflect our goals of providing cultural change," NCAA President Mark Emmert said at a news conference in Indianapolis.
The NCAA ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity.
"Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said. "With today's announcement and the action it requires of us, the university takes a significant step forward."
Paterno's family responds
Paterno's family said in a statement that the NCAA sanctions defamed the coach's legacy, and were a panicked response to the sex abuse scandal.
The family also said that punishing "past, present and future" students because of Jerry Sandusky's crimes did not serve justice.
The Big Ten announced that Penn State would not be allowed to share in the conference's bowl revenue during the NCAA's postseason ban, an estimated loss of about $13 million. And the NCAA reserved the right to add additional penalties.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus. An investigation commissioned by the school and released July 12 found that Paterno, who died in January, and several other top officials at Penn State stayed quiet for years about accusations against Sandusky.
Emmert fast-tracked penalties rather than go through the usual circuitous series of investigations and hearings. The NCAA said the $60 million is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program. The money must be paid into an endowment for external programs to prevent child sexual abuse or to assist victims and may not be used to fund such programs at Penn State.
"Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people," Emmert said.
By vacating 112 Penn State victories from 1998-2011, the sanctions cost Paterno 111 wins. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will now hold the top spot in the NCAA record book with 377 major-college wins. Paterno, who was fired days after Sandusky was charged, will be credited with 298 wins.
The scholarship reductions mean Penn State's roster will be capped at 65 scholarship players beginning in 2014. The normal scholarship limit for major college football programs is 85. Playing with 20 less is devastating to a program that tries to compete at the highest level.
Bill O'Brien, who was hired to replace Paterno, now faces the daunting task of building future teams with severe limitations, and trying to keep current players from fleeing to other schools.
"I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," O'Brien said. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes."
The sanctions came a day after the school took down a statue of Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium and was a rallying point for the coaches' supporters throughout the scandal.
At a student union on campus, several dozen alumni and students gasped, groaned and whistled as they watched Emmert's news conference.
"It was kind of just like a head shaker," said Matt Bray, 18, a freshman from West Chester, Pa. "You knew it was coming, but it was hard to hear."
© 2013 Star Tribune