NCAA LEVIES SANCTIONS AGAINST PENN STATE

Feed(s): 

ESPN.com news services

The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization said Monday morning. The career record of former head football coach Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records, the statement continued. Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period, the release said. The NCAA revealed the sanctions as NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State's president, spoke at a news conference in Indianapolis at the organization's headquarters. The NCAA said the $60 million was equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. The NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds into an endowment for "external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university." The Penn State athletic program will also be put on five-year probation and must work with an athletic-integrity monitor of NCAA's chosing. The NCAA's announcement followed a day after Penn State removed Joe Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium, a decision that came 10 days after a scathing report by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh found that Paterno, with three other top Penn State administrators, had concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against Sandusky. The Freeh report concluded their motive was to shield the university and its football program from negative publicity. The NCAA took unprecedented measures with the decision to penalize Penn State without the due process of a Committee on Infractions hearing, bypassing a system in which it conducts its own investigations, issues a notice of allegations and then allows the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled. Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue its findings. Under NCAA rules covering postseason bans, players are allowed to transfer without sitting out a season as long as their remaining eligibility is shorter than or equal to the length of the ban. Only seniors could transfer and play immediately under a one-year ban, but a two-year ban would mean seniors and juniors could both transfer without penalty. Emmert had put the Penn State matter on the fast track. Other cases that were strictly about violating the NCAA rulebook have dragged on for months and even years. There was no sign that the infractions committee so familiar to college sports fans was involved this time around as Emmert moved quickly, no doubt aided by the July 12 release of the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh and what it said about Paterno and the rest of the Penn State leadership. The investigation focused partly on university officials' decision not to go to child-welfare authorities in 2001 after a coaching assistant told Paterno that he had seen Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in the locker room showers. Penn State officials already knew about a previous allegation against Sandusky by that time, from 1998. The leaders, the report said, "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from authorities, the university's board of trustees, the Penn State community and the public at large." Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Emmert had warned Penn State last fall that the NCAA would be examining the "exercise of institutional control" within the athletic department, and said it was clear that "deceitful and dishonest behavior" could be considered a violation of ethics rules. So, too, could a failure to exhibit moral values or adhere to ethics guidelines. The Freeh report also said school had "decentralized and uneven" oversight of compliance issues -- laws, regulations, policies and procedures -- as required by the NCAA. Recent major scandals, such as improper payments to the family of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush while he was at Southern California, and players at Ohio State trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos, have resulted in bowl bans and the loss of scholarships. Paterno won 409 games for the school in his 46 seasons as head coach.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.