Sanctions likely to cripple Penn State
US Sports:The US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced significant penalties against Penn State, including a $60 million (€49.5m) fine, in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The university’s football programme has also been given four-year ban from the lucrative post-season Bowl Championship Series and denied scholarships over four years, while its victories from 1998 to 2011 have been struck from the record.
Penn State will lose 10 initial scholarships and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period, while its players will be permitted to immediately transfer to another university, inviting the possibility of a mass exodus.
The NCAA stopped short of forcing the university to shut down the football team for a season or more, the so-called ‘death penalty’, but the penalties are serious enough to expect Penn State’s football programme, one of the most successful in the country, to take years to return to the familiar upper echelons of university sport.
Announcing the penalties, NCAA president Mark Emmert called the case the most painful “chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” and said it could be argued that the punishment was “greater than any other” in history. He said Penn State accepted the penalties when they were presented to the university.
It is the latest action to stem from the scandal involving Sandusky, who was convicted last month of being a serial paedophile. The release of a grand jury report detailing Sandusky’s actions last November led to the firing of the game's most successful head coach Joe Paterno; the removal of the university’s president Graham B Spanier; and charges against two other top university officials.
Emmert said no punishment the NCAA imposed would change the damage done by Sandusky’s acts, but “the culture, actions and inactions” that allowed him to commit his crimes “will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”
Ed Ray, president of Oregon State and chairman of the NCAA executive committee, said the sanctions represented a declaration by university presidents and chancellors that the win-at-all-costs mentality in intercollegiate sports “has to stop”.
“We’ve had enough,” he added.
The fine was equal to the average annual gross revenue of the university’s football programmeuniversity’s football programme and will be placed into an endowment for programmes that work to prevent child sexual abuse and assist victims. No programmess at Penn State can be financed by the money.
A report commissioned by Penn State’s board of trustees, conducted by a group led by the former FBI director Louis J Freeh and released this month, revealed a series of failures throughout the university’s leadership in its handling of Sandusky for more than a decade. The report concluded those failures stemmed from a culture in which football was revered and consequently became too powerful on campus.
Emmert said all universities must now contemplate whether their own athletic programs had become “too big to fail,” or “too big to challenge".
Emmert noted that the Freeh report enabled the NCAA to move swiftly in handing down punishment and that Penn State had agreed its findings were true.
The NCAA also chose not to wait for the numerous criminal and civil cases surrounding the Sandusky case to play out, though those will most likely provide new information on the actions of Penn State administrators.
“Penn State can focus on the work of rebuilding its athletic culture, not worrying about whether or not it’s going to a bowl game,” Emmert said.
What sort of precedent the punishment sets remains unclear. Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School, said it could end up being a one-time decision, with no lasting effect on future policy. He said the key to the NCAA's decision to punish Penn State in this manner was directly tied to Penn State’s accepting the penalties.
“The NCAA is 102 years old and this is the first time that something like this has happened,” he said. “I think normally the NCAA would rather give due process. I think it could be an exception and we don’t see this again. The circumstances are pretty unique, hopefully unique. I don’t see this in all likelihood to come up again.”
What is certain is that Penn State’s football programme will be hindered for a long time. The college will welcome a lower standard of player to campus this autumn and will likely see a significant number of players leave.
- New York Times