NCAA hands out severe punishment for Penn State
(CNN) — Calling it “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 stripped 14 seasons of football victories from the late head coach Joe Paterno.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be paid over five years to fund programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse. The NCAA also banned Penn State from postseason play for four years and took away 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, he said.
The sanctions 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. They’re a blow to one of college football’s traditional powers, a two-time national champion.
“No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims,” Emmert said. “However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”
Penn State avoided the NCAA’s “death penalty,” a suspension from play of a year or more. But Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, said the sanctions laid on the school “should serve as a stark wake-up call to everyone in college sports.”
Paterno, who coached at Penn State for 46 years, was fired after Sandusky’s arrest in November. Graham Spanier, the school’s president, was also let go. Two other former university officials face criminal charges in the Sandusky scandal.
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 — about $13 million — will be donated to charities that “protect children.”
Paterno 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 — a move that posthumously bumps him from the top of the list.
The postseason ban, which is also unprecedented, could damage the school’s prestige in the eyes of potential recruits and will affect the program’s bottom line through the loss of potential millions from the conference title and bowl games. The penalties also deal an emotional blow to the Penn State community, one fan said.
On Sunday, a 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.
Sandusky is expected to be sentenced in September. Two former university administrators are awaiting trial for their role in the scandal.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.