Troubled university hit with $60m fine
US COLLEGE FOOTBALL PENN STATE SCANDAL:The fallout from the conviction of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for child sex abuse in June continues, as PETE THAMELreports
THE GOVERNING body of college sports in the United States took sweeping, unprecedented action against Penn State University’s football programme yesterday, including a $60 million (€49.5 million) fine and a four-year post-season ban, in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) punishment also included reducing the number of scholarships available to players from 25 to 15 and the voiding of all of the team’s victories from 1998 to 2011, but stopped short of forcing the university to shut down the football team for a season or more – the so-called death penalty.
Still, the penalties are serious enough that it is expected to take Penn State’s football programme, one of the most successful in the United States, years before it will be able to return to the sport’s top echelon.
The post-season ban and the scholarship restrictions essentially prevent the University from fielding a team that can be competitive in the Big Ten Conference.
The association will also allow the Penn State players to transfer to another university where they could play immediately, inviting the real possibility of a mass exodus.
The NCAA’s penalty, announced by the organisation’s president, Mark Emmert, is the latest action to stem from the scandal involving Sandusky, 68, who was convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He awaits sentencing and could be given as many as 373 years in prison.
In a scathing rebuke of Penn State administrators, Emmert said the school had put “hero worship and winning at all costs” ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility.
The release of a grand jury report detailing Sandusky’s actions last November led to the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno; the removal of the university’s president, Graham B Spanier; and charges against two other top university officials.
Paterno, who passed away in January of complications from lung cancer at the age of 85, held the record for victories among big-time US college football coaches in a career that spanned more than 40 seasons.
Paterno lost that status since the NCAA’s punishment includes voiding the Nittany Lions’ victories between 1998 and 2011 – the time period covering when allegations against Sandusky were first made and Sandusky’s arrest.
A statue of Paterno was also removed from outside Penn State’s 107,000-capacity Beaver Stadium last Sunday morning.
A report commissioned by Penn State’s board of trustees and conducted by a group led by 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 going back more than a decade.