Severe Penalties Imposed on PSU Football

Paterno loses all-time wins record; Nittany Lions banned from postseason for four years; school fined $60 million, to be put into a fund to help child abuse victims.


NCAA President Mark Emmert came down hard on Penn State’s football program today, handing down some of the most severe sanctions in college sports history.

While the Nittany Lions did not get the death penalty, The Sporting News reports that it may take decades for the college and its football program to recover.

The sanctions:

  • All wins from 1998 through 2011 vacated, including 111 of Joe Paterno’s 409 career victories, dropping him from first in all time victories to seventh.
  • A four-year postseason ban
  • A $60 million fine, the equivalent of one year of revenue for the Penn State football program
  • Forty scholarship losses – 10 a year for each of the next four years.
  • All players can transfer and immediately be eligible to play at their new schools.

Penn State has agreed not to appeal the sanctions, which were handed down less than two weeks after former FBI Director Louis Freeh submitted a 267-page report in concealing the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse last month.

The $60 million fine will be paid over the next five years into a special endowment created to fund programs for the detection, prevention and treatment of child abuse, said university President Rodney Erickson.

“This total of $60 million can never reduce the pain suffered by victims, but will help provide them hope and healing,” Erickson said.

Said the NCAA’s Emmert: “One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves become too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge.

"The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all costs. All involved in intercollegiate athletics must be watchful that programs and individuals do not overwhelm the values of higher education. In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable."

Carol July 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM
The arrogance of the responses here is proof that the penalties are not enough! The entire Sandusky coverup occurred because of the football over everything culture at PSU. A couple of years without football would give the university time to regain perspective return to being a learning institution instead of a football factory. Saturdays would be different. Students would return to learning, football players would transfer to other football factories, and alumni can do whatever they wish. All would find that life goes on just fine. Instead, games and parties will go on and the football culture will rally around the belief that they are innocent victims of a PC vendetta. Throughout it all, the children abused through PSU' inaction are forgotten. The only downside to the death penalty would have been the economic impact to the beer and liquor stores and bars on College Avenue.
Donna Smith July 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Carol: The financial penalties are supposed to help the victims - as long as the NCAA runs it correctly- hopefully they will have watchdogs over this to ensure this money gets to the victims. The football penalties are in place and most sportcasters are saying the so called "death penalty" would have been less than they received. So what else do you want?
Donna Smith July 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM
At what point do you stop yelling and let them begin to serve their penalty? It is a large school and from what I understand, the few Paterno supporters that are left do not represent the sentiment of the state college area.
Lynette Gray July 24, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Maybe if Penn State had imposed some sanctions on itself when this whole horrible mess broke, NCAA intervention would not have been necessary. But instead they just waited, never saying what it should do (and it knew some sanction needed to be imposed on its team). There is no room to complain about the NCAA action - if PSU truly wishes to demonstrate a commitment to place academics and child safety at the forefront, it should impose additional sanctions upon itself, much like SMU did.
M. R. Kist July 24, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I totally agree
careless fills July 24, 2012 at 01:14 PM
@michael - you must be refering to reports like this: http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-penn-state-spanier-abused-20120723,0,247014.story#tugs_story_display
Donna Smith July 24, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Hopefully those left will turn this around...Lord knows there are enough judges and juries watching. NCAA sanction was necessary because Penn State is part of the NCAA. Additional sanctions would serve what purpose? The program is crippled and billions of eyes will be watching their program.
Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Sin always damages many innocent victims in so many ways. The devastation just goes on. Pride comes before a fall. How Sandusky cannot admit what he did hurts ME as a victim because he shows NO remorse and awareness. I hope in the big picture people realize that sexual abuse is RAMPANT. I have been sexually abused by a 18-19 yr old relative when I was 7-8 yr old and I have met many many more that also were by relatives. In fact everyone I know was abused by a relative: father, uncle, cousin. None of these people LOOK like molestors so beware! PLEASE talk to your children about not being alone with teens or adults. PLEASE talk over and over with them about not allowing ANYONE to touch their bathing suit areas or kiss them on the lips. Have a good relationship with your kids & they'll tell you things, they most likely will not be victims. I have thought, "How in the world did he know I would not tell?". Most likely they will choose victims who do not have a strong relationship with their parents. Let's encourage more people to share their stories so that these creeps know that there is NO shame in admitting you were a victim. They stay empowered to do the horrible stuff they do because of people being too ashamed to speak. Victims speak out & put the light on this dark area of sin so that everyone can see what it is going on to many children each and every day. We ALL should be protecting our children better. Sandusky admit your sin & seek forgiveness from God & your victims!
Carol July 24, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Donna - The sportscasters are viewing everything through the lens of wins and losses due to the perceived impact on recruiting football players. In other words, football first. There will still be 60 or more football players on scholarship at any time throughout the penalty. Come September 1, the press will have moved on to the next fad du jour and the masses will assemble at the cathedral known as Beaver Stadium and worship their idols. All will be forgotten and the universe will return to normal in their eyes. It's not about "punishing football", it about changing the culture and values at PSU and among their supporters. It is that culture that let this happen. They protected a criminal in order to protect the football program from bad publicity. The program needs to pause so the university and it's ardent supporters can rethink their priorities and realize what PSU should be about. Too many people place the worth of PSU on football and not the institution that it can be. That is the culture that needs to change. I am seeing little evidence to that effect to date. If the death penalty is a "lesser" penalty, than I support the lesser penalty.
cher July 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Carol - you state, "Saturdays would be different. Students would return to learning, football players would transfer to other football factories, and alumni can do whatever they wish. All would find that life goes on just fine." How misguided and rude to imply that the thousands of students who graduate every year, athletes included, have not been learning. You are clearly just one of those people who resent athletes getting scholarships but overlook all the revenue they bring to the school. I guess the students should have no fun and should just study 24/7. I believe the NCAA over-stepped their boundaries. This is a legal matter. The scandal did not impact the outcome of any games. I do believe Paterno knew more than he admitted and support the fine and stripping him of the victories. I do not support the other sanctions that punish the students, athletes and busines owners in State College. As a legal issue, Paterno did all he had to do by reporting it. That stinks. Why have we not been hearing about steps being taken to change the law so that anyone with knowledge would be forced to report it to the police? If you actually care about the poor kids who were abused by Sandusky you will call your elected officials today and demand a change in the law.
Lavender Green July 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Very Sad! There are so many innocent victims here. The students should not suffer for the act of a few staff members. The other faculty who had nothing to do with it should not suffer either. I say all those who were directly involved in this class, the teachers and faculty should be punished, the sad part is the powers that be do not know how to make that happen, so they punish everyone.
Carol July 24, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Cher - You have not been hearing about the changing the law because those laws already exist. Educators and health care providers are required by law to report any suspected abuse that they observe to the police or child welfare agencies. It appears that day care teachers, school teachers, and nurses are held to higher standards than coaches and university officials making 10 times more money.
Carol July 24, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Please explain me how a student is "punished" by having one less football game available to watch on Saturdays. If it is a school spirit or social thing, they can rally around another PSU team. Play soccer games in Beaver Stadium on Saturday and hold tailgates and parties. How is a student athlete "punished" if he still has his scholarship? If "student" is his first priority, he will stay at PSU. If "athlete" is the first priority, he will transfer somewhere else to play. All of the arguments against the death penalty indicate the football culture that needs to be rethought. My only reservation about the death penalty is the impact on local business.
GJ July 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Virtually all NCAA penalties deal with past transgressions and impact many who were not transgressors. In this instance, the NCAA is telling PSU to cease being a football first university. Regarding helping victims, you are incorrect. About $73 million in total will be paid by PSU to a fund to help child abuse victims across the U.S. -- by definition that includes Sandusky's victims. Also, by not giving PSU the "death penalty" the NCAA showed sensitivity to the community, specifically the merchants and vendors who would suffer were there no football games.
Carol July 24, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Cher - Actually, I have the opposite view about the students. Viewing PSU through the prism of football first is a disservice to thousands of hard working students and faculty who are held to higher academic and behavorial standards than the football program.
careless fills July 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Lynne, you have your facts wrong. While Corbett was an appointed AG to complete a unexpired term in 95-97, that was before the first allegations against Sandusky came out in 98. By then, Mike Fisher (now a Federal judge) was elected AG. Corbett was not elected to be AG until 2005, long after Center County DA Gricar dropped the case in 1998. Corbett's office was the solution to this problem after it came to their attention in 2009 when new allegations surfaced when a new victims parent complained and it enterred the state system. Corbett's office subpoenaed Penn State early in 2010. It was Spanier that covered up the problem and who failed to inform the PSU board.
NS July 24, 2012 at 03:53 PM
For what it's worth, here is my 2 cents. The details have not been fully disclosed, so it's basically folly to try and guess at who knew what and when. It is doubtful the truth will ever come out fully, and in a case like this there are many sides to the story, so let's look at the facts. 1. Penn State obviously had a liability, to the tune of $70M+, or they would not have so readily settled this part of the investigation 2. While it's easy to say they threw Joepa under the bus, from the beginning it was clear he had serious culpability. THEY FIRED A LIVING LEGEND! The one good thing that can result from this sordid event is that people will learn that it is not acceptable to sweep it under the rug, and that it is better to take the pain and embarrassment of full disclosure if it means potentially preventing one more case of abuse. I hope this serves as a wake up call to every institution and person in our country.
two labs in the house July 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I don't understand. Were any of the students at PSU molested or have anything to do with the crime? If not, then why is the high and might NCAA punishing the student body. Historically, sanctions were brought against teams because the student athletes were involved as well as coaches. Enlighten me, how were students involved in this and why is NCAA dealing in an issue that is a criminal offense. Is there no other higher board of education that can sanction the leadership and faculty of the university? The sports had nothing to do with it. If a professor was working as a volunteer at a orginization off campus and they were found to be molesting children who are not students of PSU, would you shut down the entire University? I am confused by the power of this NCAA.
Black Sheep July 24, 2012 at 03:59 PM
All this whining is annoying. Kill the football program and go back to being a small farm school. They WERE Penn State.
Peter July 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
whatever happened to colleges being places where people went to learn? how do the NCAA punishments affect the kids paying to get an education there? is some kid going to get a lower-quality engineering education because of the NCAA penalty? Let's not forget what the main mission of the university is. PSU is a good school, but if you say the words "Penn State" to the average person, they will associate those words with either football or Paterno. PSU is a good school, but is not known that way. They still have a football program. Kids can still go watch games. What is the big f'n deal? The football program covered up child abuse to protect the program. Yeah, the program should be knocked down a peg or two. Penn State is not here to solely field a football team every year.
Jenae Holtzhafer July 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
As a PSU alumna, I appreciate this, Donna. Thank you. It's very difficult to sit and hear this talk and know all of the good - both academically and charitably - that has come from PSU through the years. It's a shame that a few sick people can ruin so many lives. My heart breaks for the victims. But I agree - those who can stick through this and support PSU for what it truly is (and NOT for the athletics alone) will be stronger in the end.
Lynne Venters July 24, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Careless fill is saying that Gov Corbett had no chance to do anything in this investigation as he only was not in office as Attorney General at the approrpiate time . However, I heard Gov Corbett saying in an interview that he chose not to become involved at that time as he didn't want to jeopardize the investigation. I don't know the time frame that he was referring to, but whatever time it was, there was still ongoing child molesting happening which could have been stopped sooner if he chose to become actively involved. In that respect, he is in the same situation as the PSU officials are accused of. That would have been more effective in stopping the actual problem than the sanctions will be.
careless fills July 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
you are partially correct. all complaints from 1998-1999 were handled at the county level. the event in the shower in 2002 was hidden from the authorities by PSU thus was not investigated by the authorities until the 2009 complaint was handled at the state level by Corbett's office. By January 2010, they had promptly subpoenaed PSU for records. The grand jury was convened and the case proceded carefully. By this time, Sandusky and PSU were on notice. There is no evidence that Sandusky molested anyone in 2010 or 2011, or if there was, please provide it. Corbett's office solved the case, but didn't cause it. In fact, the public knew about something was up even early in 2011. I was, so I was not surprised when Sandusky was indicted in November, but I was shocked by the extent of his involvement and the administration's (and Paterno's) coverup. See: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-sandusky-charges-040111,0,4161139.story from APRIL 1, 2011, over 7 months before the indicitments. Lets keep the blame where it belongs: first and foremost Sandusky, and then PSU. If you can't understand this timeline, and how Corbett was only in position to act only after the complaint was made in 2009 and how Sandusky was under the gun and being watched since early 2010 at the latest, heaven help you!
C. L. Bittner July 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
If you want to understand all that Corbett did and did not do, just read this article. http://www.yardbird.com/joe_paterno_takes_the_fall.htm
Bowden_Robinson_Forever_#1 July 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Though it was a good start, the NCAA should have gone further to punish the fans of PSU. That's right! I said it! PUNISH THE FANS!!! Punish the myriad farmers, Rebel-flag waving, rednecks of Pennsylvania's li'l Alabama. Those "faithful" hundreds of thousands who cannot spell "pedophile" or "sanctimonious" or "institutional corruption" but LOOOOOOVE PSU football. Punish the overweight, under educated, jean-short and LA Gear wearing, mullet-headed, incest committing "Friends of Joe" from Reading, Johnstown, Altoona, and Williamsport. Punish those who brandish multiple PSU car magnets and stickers, together with their NRA, NASCAR, and "God made Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve" bumper stickers. Those who celebrate Rick Santorum, those who call for Barack Obama's birth certificate, those who elected Tom Corbett. Those who say things like "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are not REAL Pennsylvania". Those who go to Insane Clown Posse concerts, AS WELL AS Christian Rock festivals. I am talking about you!!! Your punishment.... hold your breath... Forced attendance at PSU men's basketball games...for four years. Furthermore, the PSU lacrosse team (country's best coach, and goalie) home games will forever be relocated to Beaver Stadium - which is to be renamed "Beaver Slayer Stadium" in homage to the nation's great lax players who did not attend PSU and do not condone pedophilia. Its time for a change! Its time to PUNISH THE FANS! GUILT BY ASSOCIATION!!!
Bowden_Robinson_Forever_#1 July 24, 2012 at 10:22 PM
OOPS!!!... lest i forget.... Those cry-baby "why punish the students and fans for the actions of JUST THREE PEOPLE (they won't include Joe, of course, and count "FOUR"). These chumps need to be punished. When has the NCAA ever punished those truly at fault? When in the history of the NCAA did those individuals directly responsible for violations receive sanction? NEVER?!?! Punishment by NCAA is ALWAYS in arrears. Its always without harm to the those who committed the violation. The sanctimonious cries of "fair play" by the PSU cry babies needs to stop. Where were you for the OSU fans? For the USC fans? For the Miami, Memphis State, Baylor (years ago, when one b-ball player murdered another... YES! A criminal act by one occurring outside the program for which THE ENTIRE UNIVERSITY WAS PUNISHED). Why weren't you standing up for "fans rights" then? You chumps.... Your punishment... getting your head whizzered into the ground by PSU wrestling coach and greatest NCAA ATHLETE OF ALL TIME, Cael Sanderson!! As you pick up your teeth and try to stop the birds chirping in your ears and stars from clouding your vision, maybe you will understand a simple rule. THE NCAA ALWAYS PUNISHES THE FANS AND THE INSTITUTION. People are beyond reproach. You stinking CHUMPS...
careless fills July 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM
It's curious that the time line attached to your article omits several key dates, like January 7, 2010, when the state AG's office issued supoenas to PSU, and instead implies that the AG was inert until the end of 2010 when the administrators were supoenaed for testimony. Do you have any evidence that children were molested during this period?
richard luce July 24, 2012 at 10:43 PM
The scandal was an atrocity. The PSU administrators should also be held accountable The NCAA hurt the innocent student athletes and fans. What about having the NCAA standup goals and putting academic achievement ahead achievement on n the field. How many professional athletes who were recruited. Into
richard luce July 24, 2012 at 10:49 PM
How many professional atheletes came into the NBA and NFL via way of the NCAA scholarship and were short changed a higher education? What a obvious flaw in the NCAA system.
Lynne Venters July 24, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Touche, Bowden. Your sattire puts thing in the right perspective...very well written...and also amusing. Thanks.


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