The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Monday issued a wave of fines and penalties against the Penn State American football programme in the wake of the worst scandal in US college sport history.
While the NCAA’s ruling stopped short of delivering a ‘death penalty’ to Penn State football, the Associated Press reports that it has done everything but shut it down completely. The sanctions come after Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was last month found guilty of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus. An investigation commissioned by the Pennsylvania school and released earlier this month found that legendary coach Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials were silent for years about accusations against Sandusky. Paterno died in January.
The NCAA has elected to erase all Penn State football victories from the record books during Paterno’s tenure from 1998-2011. College sports’ governing body has also imposed unprecedented fines of US$60 million, ordered Penn State to sit out the postseason for four years, capped scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years and placed football on five years’ probation. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the case has provoked “deeply powerful emotions and shaken our most fundamental confidence in many ways.” He added: “Let me say that this case involves tragic and tragically unnecessary circumstances. One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become ‘too big to fail,’ or even too big to 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. No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims. However, we can make clear that the culture, actions, and inactions that allowed them to be victimised will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”
The NCAA said the $60 million fine is equivalent to year’s gross revenue by the football team and will be used to establish an endowment to support programs around the United States that serve the victims of child sexual abuse. Penn State’s four-year postseason ban has been compounded by the Big Ten Conference’s announcement that it will not be allowed to share in the conference’s bowl revenue during this time, a loss the AP estimates at about $13 million. The AP added that the cut of initial scholarships from 25 to 15 for a period of four years will be “devastating” for a team harbouring serious ambitions of competing at the highest level. The NCAA said the five-year period of probation for the University’s athletic programme will be served under an Academic Integrity monitor of the Association’s choosing. Finally, the NCAA added that it reserves the right to initiate a formal investigatory and disciplinary process and to impose sanctions on individuals involved in the case after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.
Responding to the sanctions, Penn State president, Rodney Erickson, said: “Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA. With today’s announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward.” He added: “Penn State will move forward with a renewed sense of commitment to excellence and integrity in all aspects of our University. We continue to recognise the important role that intercollegiate athletics provides for our student athletes and the wider University community as we strive to appropriately balance academic and athletic accomplishments. Penn State will continue to be a world-class educational institution of which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be justifiably proud.”
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NCAA hands out heavy sanctions in Penn State scandal