News Column

Penn State Gets NCAA Sanction for Sandusky Scandal

July 23, 2012

Blair Kerkhoff

Penn State was handed one of the stiffest penalties in NCAA history, but the Nittany Lions will continue to play football. The program will be fined $60 million, banned from bowl games for the next four years, docked 40 scholarships over the next four years and will vacate all victories since 1998.

Why 1998?

That was when the first reports of sexual abuse by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky began.

The $60 million fine is the approximate amount of revenue the football program generates in a season.

The sanctions were announced by NCAA president Mark Emmert in Indianapolis on Monday morning.

"Penn State can work on changing its athletic culture, not going to a bowl game," Emmert said.

The punishment is in response to what Emmert called the most "egregious" thing he's ever seen -- a report that included Penn State officials, including iconic head coach Joe Paterno, covered up the sex abuse crimes to protect the football brand and university's image.

In June, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. According to a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, the behavior was known to Paterno and others for more than a decade.

In an unprecedented move, the NCAA based its sanctions on that report and not a full-scale investigation. Emmert said Freeh's investigation was more thorough than an NCAA probe.

"It was provided by and accepted by the university, there were 450 interviews," Emmert said. "It was vastly more involved and thorough than any investigation we ever conducted."

Emmert was given the authority by the NCAA Division I board of directors, to proceed outside the usual bounds, but because of the extraordinary circumstances of the case such a process won't become the norm.

"We don't see this as opening a Pandora's box," Emmert said. "One should not conclude this was an abridged enforcement process."

The Big Ten also announced sanctions against Penn State, fining the school $13 million and banning it from the conference championship game for four years. The $13 million represents bowl revenue the school would have received during that period.

The NCAA sanctions docked 111 wins from Paterno's record, meaning 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Source: (c)2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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