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NCAA hits Penn State with crippling penalties for role in Sandusky scandal

INDIANAPOLIS -- Penn State football was hit with a four-year postseason ban, the loss of 40 scholarships over four years and a $60 million fine as a result of the cover up in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In addition, all Penn State wins from 1998-2011 will be vacated. The fine is equal to one year's gross revenue. The NCAA discussed the death penalty, according to president Mark Emmert, but it was not applied.

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Emmert made the announcement Monday morning in a landmark press conference at the NCAA headquarters. Never before at the highest level of college athletics has a school been penalized this severely without a formal investigation by the enforcement division and a hearing before the infractions committee.

Emmert explained that his authority to apply the sanctions came from association's two governing bodies – the executive committee and board of directors.

The penalties cripple Penn State football, putting it as close to the death penalty without the NCAA actually applying the rarely-used sanction. The program will be limited to 15 scholarships beginning for the next four years beginning in 2013. The normal limit is 25 per year.

Current Penn State players will immediately be allowed to transfer without sitting out a year, Emmert said. One coach told CBSSports.com last week that Penn State recruits were already calling him trying to gauge interest in their talents.

Never has the NCAA penalized a program in case that was based in criminal acts. Critics pointed out that the association's jurisdiction only pertains to athletic concerns – i.e. extra benefits or a competitive advantage. However, Emmert put Penn State on notice in November when he sent a letter to acting president Rodney Erickson stating that Penn State could be investigated for lack of institutional control.

That act circumvented the traditional investigative process. On the day the Freeh Report was released, July 12, the NCAA issued a statement saying that Penn State had to answer four questions about its compliance contained in the letter.

Penn State penalties
  • Probation for five years
  • $60 million sanction
  • Four-year bowl ban
  • Vacates all wins from 1998-2011
  • Loss of 10 scholarships per year for four years

Later, Emmert said on a PBS television interview that the death penalty was not off the table. While Monday's sanctions are not a formal death penalty, they severely alters the program's ability to compete at the highest level.

The penalties could be a test for how many scholarships schools at the top level need in order to remain competitive.

Former coach Joe Paterno spent 61 years at the school, 45 as head coach winning two national championships. He was master of the “Great Experiment” showing the ability to win with honor while stressing academics.

Paterno's legacy was damaged forever when the Freeh Report stated that the coach had knowledge of Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys going back to 1998. Since then, the coach's statue has been removed on Sunday. Word leaked of the impending NCAA sanctions within the hour of the statue coming down.

With the vacating of the wins, Florida State's Bobby Bowden now becomes all-time FBS wins leader.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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