BREAKING: NCAA modifies sanctions against Penn State, will restore scholarships
Published: September 24, 2013
By Mike Dawson — firstname.lastname@example.org
The NCAA will reduce the harsh sanctions imposed on Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, the organization announced Tuesday.
The organization said it is gradually restoring football scholarships the university lost because of the sanctions. Five scholarships will be restored beginning in the next academic year, and the amount will increase going forward.
In a statement, the NCAA attributed the decision to Penn State’s progress implementing changes recommended in the Freeh report and a recommendation by George Mitchell, the the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State.
The reduction comes almost a month after Penn State was praised for the progress leaders made in implementing security, ethical, compliance and governance changes in a report from Mitchell. Many wondered if Mitchell’s report would be the trigger for the NCAA to move to reduce the sanctions.
“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program,” Mitchell said. “The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.”
It appears the NCAA reduced the sanctions before Penn State could ask. In July, football coach Bill O’Brien spoke with the university’s board of trustees about the effect of the sanctions on his team, and his presentation included a proposal to the NCAA to modify the sanctions.
The sanctions included a post-season bowl ban, scholarship reductions and a $60 million fine. Penn State didn’t go bowling last year after an 8-4 season under O’Brien, and it paid $12 million toward the fine.
The sanctions on Penn State were based on the findings of the Freeh report, which blamed Penn State leaders for covering up child abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago.
Penn State alumni and fans have been critical of university leadership for not standing up against the NCAA when the sanctions came down, but President Rodney Erickson has said his hands were tied. He has said Penn State would have faced the so-called death penalty, or no football, if the university didn’t accept the sanctions.