N.C.A.A. Announces Severe Punitive Measures Against Penn State
One day after Penn State University president Rodney Erickson had Joe Paterno’s statue removed from the premises, the N.C.A.A. announced significant sanctions against the school and its football program. PSU will be facing $60 million in fines and a four-year postseason ban as penalty for the child sexual abuse case involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Additional penalties include the loss of 10 scholarships per year for the following four years, the annulment of all school victories from 1998 to 2011 (which will also dethrone Paterno from his top position as the major-college career leader in football wins), and a $13-million fine over the next four years equivalent to PSU’s postseason revenue. Although the N.C.A.A. stopped short of handing out the ‘death penalty,’ which would effectively shut down the team, officials insisted that the sanctions were just as debilitating, adding that Penn State will likely not regain its place amongst the nation’s elite sports programs within the next decade.
N.C.A.A. president Mark Emmert defended the punishment, claiming it was unprecedented in the organization’s history. “Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said, noting that the university had been remarkably cooperative in accepting the penalties.
Although the Penn State program is facing tough times ahead, its supporters remain loyal and optimistic. “I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the university forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence,” Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien pledged in a statement as he prepares to begin his first season.
The penalties are the latest repercussion of the scandal involving Sandusky, who was officially convicted last month as a serial pedophile. Since the case went to court last fall, charges against top university officials and the removal of Paterno and former PSU president, Graham B. Spanier, have gone into effect. The extent of the penalties were directly informed by the findings of the Freeh report, which revealed that senior Penn State officials including Paterno had consistently ignored and concealed sexual abuse claims against Sandusky to the detriment of the student athletes. Although many witnesses and victims of the abuse have surfaced since, the report concluded that they had all deemed the athletic program “too big to fail,” or, even worse, “too big to challenge.”
Although the penalties will likely see an exodus of players who will look to transfer or be recruited by rival teams, the N.C.A.A. hopes it will encourage the university to reevaluate its priorities. “Penn State can focus on the work of rebuilding its athletic culture, not worrying about whether or not it’s going to a bowl game,” Emmert said.