NCAA Lowers Boom on Penn State: $60 Million Fine and Four-Year Bowl-Game Ban

Penn State's football program faces the daunting task of rebuilding itself while accepting punishment for enabling a culture that covered up child sexual abuse and led to the downfall of a storied college coach

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Jim Prisching / AP

Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, walking off the field after warm-ups before a game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

A month after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing young boys during his tenure at the university, the NCAA has levied heavy punishment on the school’s football program, possibly the most far-reaching in college-sports history.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said on Monday that the school will be forced to pay a $60 million fine, funds that will endow a foundation to help combat child sexual abuse. The fine is equivalent to one year’s revenue from the football program. The school will also be banned from all bowl games for four years. Additionally, all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 to 2011 will be vacated.

The NCAA chose not to administer the “death penalty” and suspend the football program entirely, which was a possibility. “Suspension of the football program would bring unintended harm to many who have nothing to do with this case,” Emmert said.

(MORE: ‘Death Penalty’ Would Be an Act of Mercy for Penn State Football)

Penn State’s athletics department was accused of having a “football first” culture that left a window open for Sandusky’s crimes to take place while encouraging others to cover them up. “At our core, we are educators,” Emmert said. “Penn State leadership lost sight of that.”

The fines come as a result of the Freeh report, an independent investigation released on July 12 that outlines Penn State’s actions — and inactions — regarding Sandusky. The probe, conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, revealed that former head coach Joe Paterno, along with a number of other Penn State officials, were aware of Sandusky’s misconduct but failed to act properly on the allegations. Calling Paterno one of the “most powerful people” at Penn State, Freeh noted that Paterno repeatedly concealed facts related to Sandusky’s child abuse so as to avoid the consequences of bad publicity. The report stated, “The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims.”

Paterno was once a revered figure on Penn State’s campus. After the scandal broke in November, students rioted on his behalf, enraged at the thought that Paterno could be involved. But in recent weeks, the central Pennsylvania town’s feelings toward the legendary coach, who passed away in January after battling lung cancer, have soured. A halo painted above his head on a mural near the campus was removed, and most tellingly, a bronze statue of Paterno that stood prominently on the campus was taken down over the weekend.

In addition to the fine, bowl-game ban and vacated wins, Penn State must reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships for a four-year period. It has been placed on probation for five years and is subject to more punishment if any NCAA rule is broken within that time. The school must enter into an athletics integrity agreement with the NCAA, adopt all Freeh report recommendations and appoint an independent athletics integrity monitor to be selected by the NCAA.

Student athletes will be allowed to transfer to other schools. If they choose to stay, they may retain their scholarships whether or not they decide to stay on their teams.

(PHOTOS: Joe Paterno: Dec. 21, 1926–Jan. 22, 2012)

Sandusky was convicted on June 22 of 45 counts of criminal child sexual abuse. He remains in the Centre County jail awaiting sentencing. Sandusky and his lawyers have maintained his innocence, but on the basis of sentencing requirements, the 68-year-old will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

Emmert said that after criminal proceedings are final, the NCAA reserves the right to further investigate individuals who may be linked to the scandal. The independent athletics integrity monitor will report on the progress of the university on a quarterly basis, added the NCAA.

MORE: Penn State Cover-Up: Groupthink in Action

— With Nick Carbone

17 comments
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Fatesrider
Fatesrider

Holy crap, that's bizarre. 

Not too long ago, I posted what I thought would be an appropriate punishment for Penn State - including massive fines and vacated titles from the time the abuse was first known.  Apparently, others who have more say in the matter had the same thought.

Glad to see the boom lowered on them hard like that.  Hopefully, they'll learn that a college is there to TEACH - not to win games.

Lucia Matias
Lucia Matias

They deserved it.

It is about time to stop treating those tamed gorillas that know how to throw a ball as heroes, model citizens, whatever...

Universities should nurture brains, not muscles.

Don7835
Don7835

Please stop eating the paint chips.

Timmccaul
Timmccaul

don't miss one game? Why was SMU given the Death penalty and not PED-State? Doesn't make sense...certainly a lot of money but the culture in happy valley needed to be changed. Instead they will get to watch their team each saturday and whine about how it was a conspiracy...

Synmax2001
Synmax2001

SMU was punished because of under the table payments and fake jobs going to the football players/students-athletes themselves. In that case the athletes deserved punishment for engaging in the corruption.

In Penn State's case, the football players themselves had nothing to do with the cover up and corruption. Penn State football always had a high profile in terms of strictness, students ethics and high number of football players who graduate - not being a Football Factory.

 It was the Coaches and Administrators who did not live up to the high level of ethics and conduct that they themselves had set.

Ultimately it was a tragedy for those poor kids who were used and abused by a  powerful person in a high social position and then were called liars or troublemakers when they tried to call attention to this abuse.   

I believe that for the Penn State Football program  - the punishment was fair.

Discontinuing the football program removes opportunities for student/athletes, who've done nothing wrong themselves.  

But the program and the hypocrisy of the athletic administration needed to be punished.

 Joe Paterno was a good man but not a saint and in this case his own arrogance

and non-action in this case will forever tarnish his legacy. 

l0bl0
l0bl0

College athletics at many schools have become a cult of hero worship that deserves to have the rug pulled out from underneath it. It's just tragic that it took an event of this magnitude to expose the consequences of idolizing humans for being good at winning a ball game.

The university I attend excessively pampers and reveres its athletes, even as they repeatedly get in trouble with the law or with the school. Doesn't matter because they're good at throwing a ball! We need to stop treating these people like demigods and heroes when there are other people within the higher education system who deserve as much respect or more but instead get none. 

Tommy3134
Tommy3134

 I think a lot of what you say started in High School by High School coaches and High School administrators.

l0bl0
l0bl0

This is likely true, I was lucky enough to go to a school where the band had more prestige than the football team (I wasn't a part of either one though) but the attitudes on some of my university's new recruits each year are shocking. We had one player who was recently kicked off the team for felony charges, but when he first arrived on campus last year he was already disrespecting school employees and other students because he was a top recruit and knew he was a big deal. Even though half the students and faculty at my school will accomplish greater things than running real fast with a ball, at 17 years old he thought he could just spit on everyone because so many schools wanted to recruit him.

Josefina Armstron
Josefina Armstron

Your rhetoric doesn't further the just and good cause of defending the vulnerable from abuse by the powerful...2HoursDailyTo6kMonthly.blogspot.com

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

This will probably be overturned by a Pennsylvania court as a result of a challenge by Penn State saying that NCAA procedures were not followed by waiting the full 60 days for Penn State to respond to the initial NCAA notification before issuing penalties. The "football lobby" in this country is as powerful as the NRA lobby (essentially the same mindset), so I will be surprised if anything serious comes from this after all the dust settles. Hubris and influence in high places almost always trumps ethics and morality in modern America.

Esoba
Esoba

Well difficult to challenge when you have already agreed to not challenge and have publically stated that you will not challenge the NCAA ruling.  Also, according to their press release they accept the punishment and will not challenge.  Therefore, you are wrong good sir.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Time will tell. The football community in America has a long history of not playing by the rules.

Nicolas Lazarus
Nicolas Lazarus

so that means the Vatican can also get a massive fine for covering up so many pedophiling priests?????????????????????

AddictedKoala
AddictedKoala

 Yes, because we all know the NCAA has authority over foreign countries. oh wait.

Matthew Wade
Matthew Wade

Nicolas, the Catholic Church has made total payments that make the $60m fine to PSU look like paltry. As a Catholic, I am in no way defending the disgusting abuse that took place within my beloved Church (to whom I have remained faithful through good [and there is way more good than bad] and bad), but your (and the general populace's) misplaced allegations are tired rhetoric to say the least. Please reference the attached resource for evidence of the billions (justly) paid by the Church in these matters:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-an...

(specifically pp. 31 - 53, and summarized in a table on pg. 39)

Your rhetoric doesn't further the just and good cause of defending the vulnerable from abuse by the powerful. May God bless you; and may He bless the victims in this and all such heinous cases.

Tommy3134
Tommy3134

 The discussion is about Penn State not Notre Dame.