NCAA levies severe sanctions against Penn State University

Published On July 23, 2012 | By Arielle Aronson

Mark Emmert announces the punishments for Penn State in a news conference Monday. (Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE)

The NCAA levied severe punishments against Penn State University on Monday that are intended to change the culture of a program that NCAA president Mark Emmert said put football “ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”

Oregon State president and NCAA executive committee chairman Dr. Edward Ray opened the news conference with a statement reinforcing the NCAA’s ability to act in this situation.

“Not only does the NCAA have the authority to act in this case, we also have the responsibility to say that such egregious behavior is not only against our bylaws and constitution, but also against our value system and basic human decency,” Ray said.

The penalties include:

1. A $60 million fine on the university (the equivalent of the average gross revenue of the football program) that does not come at the cost of reduced programs in the athletic department or other scholarships for student athletes. The collected funds will be used for an endowment that will support external child sexual abuse programs or support for victims. The money MAY NOT be used for the same programs held or organized by Penn State itself.

2. A four-year ban for the football team on postseason play and Bowl games.
Penn State will vacate all of its football team’s wins from 1998 (the year of the first reported instance of child sex abuse) through 2011. Individual records reflect this change. Former head coach Joe Paterno is no longer the all-time wins leader in the history of the FBS.

3. The football team must reduce scholarships from 25 to 15 per year beginning in 2013 and continuing for the next four years. The program will lose 40 total scholarships.

4. The university will be on probation for five years. It will be required to work with an academic integrity monitor during that time.

5. The NCAA reserves the right to impose additional sanctions once continuing criminal investigations into involved parties conclude.

“As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act,” Emmert said in the NCAA press release. “These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”

In light of the sanctions, current PSU athletes will be permitted to transfer to another school and will be allowed to compete immediately, circumventing the traditional transfer rule requiring athletes to sit out a year should they choose to transfer.

During the news conference, Emmert admitted the NCAA debated imposing the death penalty on the Penn State football program, but ultimately decided the death penalty would not help in the ultimate goal of changing the culture at Penn State and would punish people who had absolutely no involvement in the crimes committed at the university.

Emmert said if the NCAA had shut down the football program, there still would have been additional sanctions in response to the record of serial child sexual assault committed by Jerry Sandusky and allowed to continue by the highest officials at the university.

Throughout the news conference, Emmert refused to talk about individuals and their responsibility for or complicity with Jerry Sandusky’s serial sexual abuse of children. Emmert said his refusal to discuss individuals was due to the ongoing criminal investigation into former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley on charges of neglecting to report child abuse and lying to a grand jury. Emmert also refused to comment on Paterno because of the ongoing criminal cases. Paterno, however, died in January from lung cancer and will therefore not face criminal charges.

The punishments against Penn State were decided upon based on the results of the Freeh report and the conviction of Sandusky in June on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual assault. Emmert said the NCAA did not need to conduct a separate investigation due to the thorough nature of the Freeh report and the acceptance of the report by PSU as fact or probable occurrence.

“No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims,” Emmert said in the news conference. “However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions will not be tolerated by collegiate athletics.”

Update 11:18 am:

The Big Ten announced its sanctions against Penn State University on Monday morning. The sanctions include a ban from the conference championship game for the same four years Penn State is banned from NCAA postseason play. Penn State will receive no funds from the conference’s shared bowl revenues, which equals approximately $13 million. That money will be donated to charitable foundations dedicated to the protection of children. The Big Ten will also be party to the Athletic Integrity Agreement during Penn State’s five-year probation.

“We recognize that what occurred at Penn State University is a consequence of the concentration of power that can result from a successful athletic program and the failure of institutional leadership to maintain institutional control,” said the Big Ten in a press release Monday morning. “We further recognize our own responsibility to insure, within the context of our own institutions, sufficient control and responsibility over our athletic programs. Our review has led to a document entitled Standards and Procedures for Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics that is not yet final, but on schedule to be adopted by the COPC and implemented in the 2012/13 academic year under the auspices and oversight of the COPC.”

More from SGS on Penn State sanctions:

Alice Cook: Sue Paterno: A wife’s unwavering support

Courtney Fallon: Tough task awaits Bill O’Brien

Tanya Ray Fox: The NCAA sanctions on Penn State and why they aren’t enough

The reaction from athletes: Many react to sanctions NCAA imposes on PSU

Statements from assorted officials regarding sanctions:


Big Ten

Paterno family

Penn State president Rodney Erickson

Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien

Penn State acting athletic director David Joyner

This article will be updated throughout the day.

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.