“This morning, the NCAA showed it was not afraid at all to show Penn State and other schools that the kind of behavior and culture that led to the Jerry Sandusky cover-up for years would never be tolerated ever again. The board hit Penn State with $60 million in fines, reduced the number of the school’s scholarships and wiped out all the team’s wins from 1998 to 2011 and removing Joe Paterno from the top of the list of the winningest NCAA football coaches ever.
The sanctions included a four-year postseason ban for the football team, a scholarship reduction from 25 to 15 for four years, a five-year probation for all Penn State sports, a $60-million fine and the vacating of all football wins from 1998 through 2011.
The fine will serve as an endowment to serve victims of child abuse nationwide, NCAA President Mark Emmert said when he announced the penalties at a press conference at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis along with Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee.
The NCAA’s actions are unprecedented in that Emmert received special approval from the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors, which comprises college presidents and chancellors, to personally levy the penalties, a first in NCAA history for a president.
“This is a very distinct and very unique circumstance,” Emmert said.
By issuing the penalties in this way, Emmert and the NCAA bypassed the tedious and often years-long infractions process — forgoing a formal NCAA investigation into Penn State in favor of swift action.
Penn State players will be allowed to transfer immediately and be eligible elsewhere. The vacation of wins also means that former famed Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in the major college football history.
Emmert’s actions come less than two weeks after the school’s internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh determined that Penn State leaders, including Paterno, former Athletic director Tim Curley, former President Graham Spanier and ex-Vice President Gary Schultz, agreed to cover up Sandusky’s abuses.
Sandusky, a longtime Paterno assistant, was found guilty on 45 counts involving 10 boys.
The penalties were not as severe as the “death penalty” that the NCAA issued against Southern Methodist in 1987, which included a one-year ban on the program’s football team for a litany of violations, largely involving payments to players by boosters.
Those penalties crippled SMU for decades.
But the sanctions are considered to be by far among the harshest the NCAA has handed down in its history and certainly among its harshest since issuing USC’s football team in 2010 a two-year postseason ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.