NCAA gives Penn State ‘Stark Wake-up Call’ with $60 Million Fine
(CNN) — Saying it is “a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports,” the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late Joe Paterno.
The school was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be paid over five years to fund programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse.
The Big Ten Conference also acted Monday, ruling that Penn State is ineligible for its conference title football game and that the Nittany Lions’ share of bowl revenues for the next four seasons — approximately $13 million — will be donated to charities that “protect children.”
The NCAA’s punishments are part of the continued fallout from the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in late June of 45 of the 48 counts he faced involving 10 young victims.
The punishments follow an independent investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, whose report held four top Penn State officials, including Paterno, responsible for failing to stop the abuse. That failure began in 1998, according to the report.
“The corrective and punitive measures the executive committee and the Division I board of directors have authorized should serve as a stark wake-up call to everyone in college sports,” said Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a written statement that the university has accepted the NCAA decision and will not appeal.
“It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes,” he said. “We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative.”
Paterno, who coached at Penn State for 46 years, had been the all-time leader in major college football victories for a coach, with 409 wins. The NCAA’s decision strikes 111 of those from his record, beginning in 1998.
“The NCAA has now become the latest party to accept the [Freeh] report as the final word on the Sandusky scandal,” the Paterno family said in a statement Monday. “The sanctions announced by the NCAA today defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.”
The penalties are a major blow to one of college football’s traditional powers, even though the two-time national champions avoided a suspension of at least one year. The postseason ban, which is also unprecedented, could damage the school’s prestige in the eyes of potential recruits and will also affect the program’s bottom line through the loss of potential millions from the conference title and bowl games.
A recent university study said the football program had a $161.5 million impact on Pennsylvania in 2009. The football team made a $53.2 million profit in 2010, according to CNN Money. The school made $24 million more through general merchandise sales, CNN Money reported.
“One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge,” Emmert said. “The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all cost.”
The penalties also deal an emotional blow to the Penn State community, one fan said.
“By essentially taking away the main pillar of the university, you are almost pulling the university down,” former student Ujas Patel told CNN. What really hurts, he said, is taking wins away from Paterno, known affectionately by fans as JoePa.
“Anybody who’s gone to Penn State, that’s something that really is going to bother people,” he said.
A lawyer for one of Sandusky’s victims said the NCAA should have heard from his client and others who were abused.
“Throughout the past several weeks, PSU and the NCAA have imposed sanctions and taken what they perceive to be corrective measures,” said Ben Andreozzi, attorney for the person identified as Victim No. 4 in the Sandusky case. “I am disappointed that no effort was made to consult the victims in this case to ensure that their voices were heard in this process. After all, they are the ones who were victimized, not the NCAA or PSU. “
Emmert said current players will be allowed to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year, as is normally required, or they can stay and keep their grants, even if they don’t play football. The restrictions mean that starting in 2014, the school cannot have more than 65 players on scholarship, and it can offer only 15 new scholarships each year for four years, beginning with next year’s incoming recruits.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” new coach Bill O’Brien said in a written statement. “But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.”
On social media, some players wrote they would return next season as a team with a mission.
“PSU vs The World – Day 1 – ,” tweeted tight end Garry Gilliam.
On Sunday, the 900-pound bronze statue of Paterno was removed from its place outside the 107,000-seat football stadium. Erickson issued a statement saying the statue is being stored in a “secure location.” Another tribute to Paterno — the university library that bears his name — will remain as it is, Erickson said.
The statue was removed exactly six months after Paterno died of lung cancer. He died less than three months after he coached his last game. Under Paterno’s tenure as head coach, the Nittany Lions went undefeated five times and finished in the top 25 national rankings 35 times.
The Freeh report found that several Penn State officials concealed evidence that Sandusky had sexually abused minors. Freeh concluded that Paterno could have prevented further sexual abuse had he taken action.
Sandusky is expected to be sentenced in September. His legal team has said it will appeal the convictions.
Two former university administrators are awaiting trial for their role in the scandal, and more charges are possible as the state’s attorney general investigates what Penn State may have known about Sandusky’s behavior.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.