Penn State punishment discussion thread

The NCAA announced unprecedented penalties affecting the Penn State football program this morning, in response to the Freeh reports’s findings on the failure of university officials and coaches to protect children from sexual abuse.  

From the NCAA’s press release:

$60 million fine. The NCAA imposes a $60 million fine, equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenues from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period beginning in 2012 into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse. The minimum annual payment will be $12 million until the $60 million is paid.  The proceeds of this fine may not be used to fund programs at the University. No current sponsored athletic team may be reduced or eliminated in order to fund this fine.

Four-year postseason ban. The NCAA imposes a four-year postseason ban on participation in postseason play in the sport of football, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 academic year. Therefore, the University’s football team shall end its 2012 season and each season through 2015 with the playing if its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including a conference championship, any bowl game, or any postseason playoff competition.

Four-year reduction of grants-in-aid. For a period of four years commencing with the 2013-2014 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 academic year, the NCAA imposes a limit of 15 initial grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 25 allowed) and for a period of four years commencing with the 2014-2015 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year a limit of 65 total grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 85 allowed) for football during each of those specified years. In the event the total number of grants-in-aid drops below 65, the University may award grants-in-aid to non-scholarship student-athletes who have been members of the football program as allowed under Bylaw

Five years of probation. The NCAA imposes this period of probation, which will include the appointment of an on-campus, independent Integrity Monitor and periodic reporting as detailed in the Corrective Component of this Consent Decree. Failure to comply with the Consent Decree during this probationary period may result in additional, more severe sanctions.

Vacation of wins since 1998. The NCAA vacates all wins of the Penn State football team from 1998 to 2011. The career record of Coach “Joe” Paterno will reflect the vacated records.

Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid retention. Any entering or returning football student-athlete will be allowed to immediately transfer and will be eligible to immediately compete at the transfer institution, provided he is otherwise eligible. Any football student-athlete who wants to remain at the University may retain his athletic grant-in-aid, as long as he meets and maintains applicable academic requirements, regardless of whether he competes on the football team.

The NCAA also ordered the university to adopt the recommendations in former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report released earlier this month. If Penn State does not comply, its athletic programs may face additional sanctions.

I consider these penalties appropriate and fair. Legendary football coach Joe Paterno can’t be prosecuted for his wrongdoing, because he passed away last year. But Freeh found evidence that Paterno discouraged university officials from reporting Jerry Sandusky’s alleged abuse to law enforcement authorities. He thought protecting his football program from scandal was more important than protecting children from abuse that can cause lifelong health problems for survivors. The very least the NCAA can do is make sure Paterno no longer holds the all-time record for victories.

The current Penn State football players are not being punished unfairly. They can choose to transfer to another school and play football immediately (rather than being benched for a year), stay at Penn State to play football, or keep their Penn State scholarship through graduation even if they decide to drop football.

Other Penn State athletes will not be punished either. The NCAA has forbidden the university from paying the fines with money saved by shutting down other sports programs.

The criminal charges against Sandusky are unique, but other college athletic programs have tried to sweep criminal behavior under the rug before. The severe sanctions on Penn State may encourage other university administrators to let law enforcement do their jobs.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Tags: Crime, Sports

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  • Agreed

    I guess I am mildly disappointed that the program was not suspended for a year or two, but the sanctions imposed are pretty tough.  I feel a little sorry for the coaching staff, although they knew this was a possibility when they signed on.  On the flip side, they will now be under much less pressure to win football games, given all they have to contend with.  Their job will be to establish some “normalcy” and a new foundation for the program, moving forward. I hope the hostile crowds at away football games will take it easy on the current players and coaches, since they had nothing to do with this mess.

    Of course, we all know what a sham major college athletics is, anyway.  Penn State will write that check from money derived from the sweat of athletes who toiled for nothing, save a scholarship (if they chose to take advantage of it).  

    Coupla other things – I am sick of the Paterno family’s whining…they need to pipe down.  And I sure am happy they took that statue down Sunday morning. That operation was executed with a precision worthy of any top military unit.  

    This whole thing is yet another example of how things many, many times aren’t what they appear to be.

    • I would be surprised

      if the crowds at away games took it out on the current players. Then again, I haven’t been to a college football game in 10 plus years.

  • Not that it matters much

    in the big picture, but isn’t there something Orwellian in saying the Penn State wins 98-11 didn’t happen? Isn’t pretending something didn’t happen the problem in the first place?

    Leave Paterno at the top of the wins list, as a blot of shame on the whole set of false priorities.

    • hasn't the NCAA vacated wins before

      when teams played ineligible players? I don’t think the practice is unprecedented, although it’s never been applied at this scale.

      I don’t think leaving him at the top would be perceived as a blot of shame.