INDIANAPOLIS (July 23, 2012) — In an unprecedented move, the NCAA on Monday slammed Penn State with a series of penalties, less than two weeks after The Freeh Report accused football coach Joe Paterno and other top university officials of concealing child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandsusky to avoid bad publicity.
A $60 million fine, which the NCAA said is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the Penn State football program, will be used as an endowment to serve victims of child abuse nationwide, said NCAA President Mark Emmert when he announced he penalties.
The sanctions also include the loss of all of Paterno’s victories from 1998 to 2011, a four-year postseason ban for the football team, a scholarship reduction from 25 to 15 for four years and a five-year probation for all Penn State sports.
[pullquote_left]”Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.” — The Freeh Report[/pullquote_left]
Penn State players will be allowed to transfer immediately and be eligible elsewhere. The vacated wins mean that Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in major college football history.
Emmert bypassed usual investigative protocol and instead turned to the NCAA executive committee and Division I Board of Directors for the authority to punish Penn State because senior leaders concealed information for years that could have stopped former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing children, USA TODAY reports.
The NCAA ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university community are held to the same standards of honesty and integrity.
“Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said. “For the next several years, Penn State can focus on rebuilding its athletic culture, not on whether it’s going to a bowl game.”
Penn State has accepted the sanctions and said it does not plan to appeal them.
“Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. “With today’s announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward.”
The Big Ten Conference said Penn State would not be allowed to share in the conference’s bowl revenue during the NCAA’s postseason ban, an estimated loss of about $13 million.
Paterno’s family said the NCAA sanctions defamed the coach’s legacy, and were a panicked response to the sex abuse scandal, according to the Associated Press. A statue of the longtime coach was removed from campus this weekend.
His family also said punishing “past, present and future” students because of Sandusky’s crimes did not serve justice.
Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator at the school, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing several young boys, sometimes on school grounds. He faces life in prison.
A report issued July 12 found that Paterno, who died in January, and other top officials kept the accusations against Sandusky quiet for years.