Updated 3:50 p.m. with quotes from Jay Paterno, the son of late Penn State Coach Joe Paterno.
Penn State University will gradually get back its football scholarships that were taken away as part of punishments from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, the NCAA announced Tuesday.
Five scholarships will be restored next year and more will be phased in until the school reaches normal totals in 2016-17, college sports’ governing body said. The NCAA said the decision was based on the recommendation of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who has been serving as Penn State’s athletics integrity monitor.
The NCAA said the university has “made progress toward ensuring athletics integrity” as part of its reasoning for the decision but added that the other sanctions levied on the university will remain.
Consistent with Mitchell’s recommendation, the Executive Committee agreed the existing postseason ban, $60 million fine to help fund child abuse programs and other sanctions outlined in the consent decree will remain in effect. However, the group may consider additional mitigation of the postseason ban in the future depending upon Penn State’s continued progress.
Penn State officials said they were “gratified” by the NCAA’s decision.
“The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “This news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions.”
But not everyone was pleased with the move.
Jay Paterno, the son of the Nittany Lions’ legendary late coach, was critical of the move, tweeting: “NCAA gives back SOME PSU scholarships? Why not ALL? ANY football sanctions are still an affront to the truth.”
Paterno took issue with the executive committee’s comment that the school has shown “continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity” and tweeted: “NCAA:’Due to Penn State’s continued progress towards ensuring athletics integrity” Progress towards something that already existed?”
Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence after being convincted last year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. A state appeals court heard an oral argument from Sandusky’s lawyers about his request for a new trial last week.