NCAA President Mark Emmert announced today a set of punishments against Penn State University in light of the Jerry Sandusky conviction for sexual assaults on a number of little boys. The university, according to the recent Freeh Report, was complicit in concealing the assistant coach’s vile actions, which directly led to the penalties listed today. According to Emmert, Penn State signed a consent order so no appeals are anticipated.
The penalties placed upon the university are:
• The university is fined $60 million. Although massive, the university has one of the largest endowments of any public university in the nation. Penn State had previously announced that no moneys used for tuition would pay any fine.
• The university also receives a 4 year ban on going to bowls. Bowl games are a method colleges use to amass alumni bequests; without these, it can affect the amount that PSU has to spend on buildings, professors, or ancillary spending.
• All football victories between 1998 and 2011 have been vacated. This penalty is clearly directed at the legacy of Joe Paterno, who until this morning had the most wins of any NCAA football coach.
• All returning and incoming football players are permitted to leave the university, play for another program, without the typical one year waiting period. This kills the football program for the next 7 or 8 years. Other football programs can be expected to begin vulturizing players who they need, or want. Already, PSU’s best recruit has announced that he will not go to Penn State.
• Players who are currently on scholarship will be permitted to stay on scholarship, even if they choose to not play football any longer.
The reason for these extensive penalties is that the Freeh Report provided evidence of a lack of institutional control over the program. Advocates for Penn State are already complaining that these punishments are worse than the ‘death penalty’, which would shut down the football program. I assume, though, that the university had and still has the option of taking the death penalty, so this is not realistic. As we know, SMU did receive the death penalty a number of years ago; their program has never recovered.
Let me just add this: although I’m from that part of the country, I’m a Pitt fan. Few of you will recall the 1970s, when Pitt had built a powerhouse football program, under Coach Jackie Sherrill. Joe Paterno, on one of his many trips to Pittsburgh, told powerful Pitt alumni that Sherrill was a disgrace; the university soon let him leave. The program has never recovered. Paterno famously told a reporter that a reason he stayed in college football was that otherwise, it would leave college football in the hands of the Jackie Sherrills and the Barry Switzers. This arrogance and holier than thou attitude led him to conceal Sandusky’s disgusting behavior. Paterno’s power in the university caused other authoritative university officials to cower before him.
UPDATE: Also, this morning, the Big 10 Conference announced that it was levying additional penalties against Penn State. These penalties include a $13 million fine, a ban from appearing from the conference championship game for 4 years, and censuring PSU. The fine is intended to be Penn State’s share of what other conference temas from bowl games. The censure means that PSU will not be permitted to vote on league matters.