NCAA hits Penn State football with $60 million fine, four-year postseason ban, scholarship cuts

10:13 AM, Jul 23, 2012   |    comments
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Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno



Indianapolis (Indy Star) -- The NCAA on Monday morning announced sanctions against Penn State, including a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban and 10 scholarships per year for four years.

The fine will set up an endowment for programs for victims of child sexual assault, NCAA president Mark Emmert said. It is one year's gross revenue of Penn State's football team.

See Also: Joe Paterno statue taken down

Penn State players will be allowed to transfer and be eligible immediately instead of sitting out a season. Players who remain at the school will keep their scholarships regardless of whether they play football.

All of Penn State's victories from 1998 through 2011 will be vacated. That will be reflected in the record of coach Joe Paterno, who died in January.

"An argument can be made that this case is as egregious as any in NCAA history," Emmert said. 

He said the case was one where "hero worship ... subordinated core values" of higher education. He said the sanctions mean Penn State can "work on rebuilding its athletic culture" and not worry about going to bowl games. He said Penn State has signed a consent decree accepting the punishments.

A 9 a.m. news conference in Indianapolis included Emmert and Oregon State president Ed Ray, chair of the NCAA executive committee. It addressed "corrective and punitive measures" in the wake of Penn State's child sexual assault scandal involving convicted former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

"The message is the presidents and chancellors are in charge," Ray said. "The cautionary tale here is, every major college and university needs to do a gut check" on athletics' role in the school's culture.

An investigation and report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, initiated by Penn State, revealed top school officials and Paterno covered up allegations against Sandusky to protect the football program.

Moving this quickly is highly unusual for the NCAA, which is often criticized for having a slow-moving bureaucracy. Instead of using the NCAA's own investigative and judicial process, Emmert has apparently gained the authority from the executive committee to act based on the Freeh report.

On Monday morning, talk radio hosts criticized the NCAA for involving itself in a moral and legal issue, not a violation of the organization's rules.

Yet the NCAA found itself in a difficult position. If it did not act, it would be skewered for ignoring heinous crimes while vigilantly prosecuting its own picayune rules.

A letter to Emmert from Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, which claimed 5,000 members, criticized the NCAA.

"It is beyond comprehension how the NCAA can possibly believe it has the power to control events that do not violate NCAA rules," the letter said. "nor how the NCAA can issue punishment without ever even launching an investigation in accordance with your own rules."

The letter characterized Freeh's report as "fraught with factual and legal errors."

Said Emmert: "The unusual nature of this resolution speaks more to the (magnitude of the) case itself than anything else."

It's unclear whether the Big Ten Conference will take further action. Last week, University of Iowa president Sally Mason said, "I think you can expect, when the NCAA is ready to talk about what the appropriate actions are with regard to Penn State, that we'll be ready to talk about appropriate actions with regard to the conference as well."

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