The NCAA announced unprecedented sanctions against Penn State Monday morning following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The sanctions include a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban and a vacation of all PSU wins from 1998-2011. With this adjustment in the record books, Joe Paterno drops from the winningest NCAA football coach to 12th on the list with 298 wins.
The punishment also includes a reduction in available PSU scholarships, a five-year probation for the football program and allows players to transfer immediately without any loss of eligibility. While the NCAA stopped just short of the “death penalty,” – the banning of a school from competing in sport for at least one year – the program is sure to suffer tremendously. NCAA president Mark Emmert referred to the punishments as possibly “greater than any other seen in NCAA history.”
The crippling sanctions raise many questions regarding the role of athletic programs at top universities. The swiftness of the decision largely depended on the findings from the Freeh report conducted by Penn State’s board of trustees and former FBI director Louis J. Freeh. The report revealed the university’s leaderships failure to report and punish Sandusky for more than a decade. The report also discussed the dangers of allowing a football culture to become too powerful. In his announcement Emmert said, “These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”
UVa will be one of the first tests for the suffering Nittany Lions as they compete in Charlottesville on September 8 in both teams’ second game of the 2012-2013 season. The last time the two squads met was in 2002, reportedly one season after Paterno discovered Sandusky’s abusive behavior. While the Cavaliers won that game 20-14, Penn State leads the series 5-2. With the full impact of the sanctions unknown, it is hard to say how the Nittany Lions will look when they arrive at Scott Stadium. Top rivals are reported to already be contacting potential transfers and the NCAA is considering removing scholarship limits for schools taking in PSU transfers.
The announcement also hits home for Charlottesville native Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg, a rising senior and Fork Union Military Academy star quarterback, committed to PSU in February right after Bill O’Brien replaced Paterno as head coach. Despite the scandal, Hackenberg told NBC29 yesterday he would only change his mind if PSU received the “death penalty.”