Updated at 11:59 a.m.
Penn State was socked with a four-year postseason ban, the loss of scholarships for a four-year period and a $60 million fine stemming from its actions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
In addition, all victories from 1998-2011 have been vacated, a huge blow to the coaching legacy of Joe Paterno, now formerly the leader in Division I college football victories.
NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the penalties, saying that “one of the dangers in our love of sports is that sports themselves can become too big to fail, too big to challenge.”
The $60 million fine, which amounts to one year’s gross revenue from the football program, will be used to endow a fund for victims of abuse and to prevent future abuse, Emmert said.
Penn State will lose 10 initial and 20 total scholarships over a four-year period. In addition, athletes will be free to transfer and retain immediate eligibility, prompting the possibility of a mass exodus as well as a feeding frenzy by other coaches.
Although the school avoided the death penalty, which would have shut the program down, the sanctions are so serious that it could take years for the program to recover.
Emmert said that no punishment could change or mitigate the damage done by Sandusky to children, but “the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”
The NCAA acted with atypical speed in punishing Penn State, basing its actions on the information contained in an investigation commissioned by Penn State trustees and conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh rather than conducting its own investigation. When Penn State accepted the results of the investigation, NCAA officials decided they were free to act. It also chose not to delay action until the many civil and criminal cases presently pending were resolved.
The reaction at Penn State was one of acceptance.
“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, 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,” Coach Bill O'Brien, Paterno’s successor, said in a statement released by the school. “I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”
Original post, 8:30 a.m.
The child sex-abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State is unprecedented and the punishment that will be handed down by the NCAA today is likely to be just as unique.
NCAA President Mark Emmert is expected to announce “significant” and “staggering” penalties, according to a Yahoo report, in a 9 a.m. press conference. In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the school could be hit with a multiple-year bowl ban and what Yahoo reported could be “crippling” scholarship losses. The Penn State football program is not expected to receive the so-called death penalty, but that’s small comfort. In addition to the sanctions, CBS reports that Penn State will be fined, perhaps $30 million to $60 million. “This is a fine like no fine before,” a source told CBSSports.com.
Emmert is expected to take action more typical of a pro sports commissioner. According to Yahoo, he will personally sanction Penn State after getting the go-ahead from the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors (a group of college presidents and chancellors). The NCAA usually takes action after its enforcement officers conduct an investigation, but Emmert would be basing his action on the results of an investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh. That investigation found that Penn State officials Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and coach Joe Paterno concealed and failed to prevent Sandusky’s abuse of children. Paterno was fired in November and died in January. Sandusky was convicted on 45 charges of abuse in June.
Penn State, according to PennLive.com, is not expected to appeal the penalties or sanctions.
However, Emmert’s announcement will raise a number of questions:
What will happen to Coach Bill O’Brien? His contract specifies bonuses for bowl games and conference championship games, for which Penn State would be ineligible. He has indicated that he has no plans to leave the school and his contract reportedly does not allow him to leave without paying a significant amount of money.
Will players be allowed to transfer from Penn State and be immediately eligible at other schools?
If there is, indeed, a multi-million-dollar fine, where will the money go?
What sort of precedent does this establish for NCAA enforcement? Typically, the NCAA slams a school for lack of institutional control. In this case, it is expected to hammer Penn State for malfeasance stemming from aggressive institutional control.
Early Lead: Joe Paterno stripped of historic status
Campus Overload: Paterno library keeps its name