Report: Penn State faced four-year death penalty

The NCAA was set to give Penn State the so-called 'death penalty' for up to four-years had the university not accepted a negotiated consent decree that resulted in serious sanctions but still allowed the university to field a football team, according to an ESPN report.

Penn State was fined $60 million and banned from the postseason for four years, in addition to four years of scholarship reductions that were announced Monday at an NCAA press conference in Indianapolis. According to the report, the majority of the association's leadership wanted to levy the four-year death penalty.

"Well, that's a pretty tough number to swallow," Penn State president Rodney Erickson told ESPN about what he was thinking when told of the four-year possibility. "It's unprecedented. It's a blow to the gut; there's no doubt about that ... I couldn't agree to that at all."

Hurried discussions began almost immediately after Erickson was informed of the possible sanctions by NCAA president Mark Emmert. The report stated that had Penn State not negotiated and agreed to the sanctions they ultimately were hit with, the NCAA would have begun a formal investigation and faced a multi-year death penalty and a fine even greater than the one they will pay out.

Erickson and Emmert agreed to a set of penalties, which also included a vacation of wins from 1998-2011, on Sunday as the fall out continued for school officials' role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. According to several members of the Penn State board of trustees, they were never briefed on the agreement before it was signed, calling into question whether the president had the authority to agree to the consent decree in the first place.

The Nittany Lions also faced a possible TV ban in addition to the death penalty, according to the report.

"Both of those things are possible under the sanctions," Erickson told the site Wednesday. "I think it is not only best for our football program but best for our entire set of sports and intercollegiate athletes to be able to continue on and have the opportunity to play in that stadium and participate.

"I think the death penalty would have been far, far worse for the program and the university over the long run."

The Penn State board of trustees will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss whether Erickson had the authority to agree to the NCAA sanctions against the program without first getting the board's approval. Coach Bill O'Brien is scheduled to attend Big Ten media days Thursday and Friday but will not be bringing any players to answer questions.

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