Sanctions for other sporting clubs who covered up child abuse...
Under legendary coach Joe Paterno, Penn State football became one of the most recognizable and successful brand names in college athletics. But on Monday, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against the program for its role in the sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, erasing part of the team’s illustrious history and making its prospects in the near future increasingly dim.
The NCAA fined the school $60 million, imposed a four-year postseason ban on Penn State football, significantly reduced the number of scholarship players the team can field over the next four years, placed the program on probation for five years and enabled any current or incoming player to transfer and play immediately without restriction.
But perhaps the most significant individual sanction in the context of college football history is that all of Penn State’s wins from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated, which means that Paterno, who oversaw the Nittany Lions’ football program for nearly 46 years, no longer is the all-time winningest coach in college football’s Division I. That distinction now returns to the late Eddie Robinson, who recorded 408 career wins in 45 years as the head coach of Grambling State — a number surpassed by Paterno on Oct. 29, his last game as Penn State coach before he was forced to step down.
The punishment was not the so-called “death penalty,” a drastic measure banning a rule-breaking program from competition that has been imposed only once in the modern era — in 1987, the NCAA prohibited Southern Methodist from fielding a football team for one season (and the school added a second year). But the impact on Penn State football is likely to be similarly devastating.
The $60 million fine dwarfs any levied by the NCAA in the past; the four-year bowl ban will cost the school tens of millions of dollars; and the reduction to 15 from 25 annual new scholarships, while not unprecedented in scale, will significantly handicap recruitment efforts, especially given the other negative fallout from the Sandusky scandal.
Opposing football programs looking to take in Penn State castoffs may receive an unanticipated gift: The NCAA is considering whether to allow them to do so without counting the former Nittany Lions players against their allotment of 85 scholarship players.
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