NCAA Reduces Penn State Sanctions

Story posted September 24, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Wargon

Just a year after the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions on the Penn State football program, they will now begin to slowly reduce them.

Beginning next academic year, the NCAA will gradually restore Penn State’s scholarships by adding five to the 15 scholarships they were limited to. The program will have 20 available scholarships in 2014-2015, and will be back to the full NCAA limit of 25 scholarships a year starting in 2015-2016.

Additionally, Penn State will be able to use five more scholarships a year in the overall scholarship count, until they are returned to the NCAA limit of 85 in 2016-2017. This will provide Penn State the opportunity to use 75 scholarships next academic year, an increase from the 65 they were limited to.

The NCAA took action today after former US Sen. George Mitchell wrote a positive report last month.  Mitchell is the independent third party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State. He suggested that the NCAA should reduce the sanctions imposed on Penn State after finding that the school implemented 115 of the 119 recommendations made by Louis J. Freeh in his report last July.  The sanctions were initially given to Penn State due to lack of leadership during the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

Even though scholarships have been restored, the rest of the sanctions are still in effect including a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, five years of probation, and all wins from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated. Penn State must abide by these sanctions since president Rodney Erickson signed the consent decree, which reportedly saved the football program from receiving the death penalty. 

“The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud,” Erickson said in a statement. “I would also like to thank the literally hundreds of University administrators, faculty, staff and students whose hard work over the past 15 months helped lay the groundwork not only for this action by the NCAA but, even more importantly, for a better Penn State.”

NCAA president Mark Emmert said they will look at the Penn State case again this August and could possibly reduce the bowl ban.

“Today’s announcemnt by the NCAA is tremendous news.,” Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said in a statement. “As a staff, we are especially pleased for our players, who have proven themselves to be a resilient group of young men who are able to look ahead, focus and overcome adversity.”

”Penn State has long been known for graduating its student-athletes and providing them with a world class education. The scholarship additions will allow us to provide more student-athletes with a tremendous oppurtunity to earn that degree and play football for Penn State.”

Penn State currently has 12 verbal commitments for the class of 2014.

Mike Wargon is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mjwargon@gmail.com.