NCAA Hammers Penn State With Sanctions

The NCAA dealt a series of heavy blows to the Penn State football program less than two weeks after a devastating report accused Joe Paterno and other top university officials of concealing child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant coach. The NCAA sanctions include a $60 million fine with funds to be used for an endowment for non-university programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims as well as a dramatic cut in football scholarships.

Watch the NCAA’s opening statement and Q&A video at the bottom of this post, and read the full list of sanctions at Reaction was swift, especially from the Nittany Lions football family and from national experts. The Big Ten Conference responded with additional sanctions while Penn State athletic officials released statements, too. We’re updating this post and adding videos to our video gallery with BTN’s complete TV coverage.

“The career record of former head football coach Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period. In addition, the NCAA reserves the right to impose additional sanctions on involved individuals at the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.”

[Here is a full list of the sanctions and explanations at]

The NCAA also reserves the right to hold an investigation on individuals. As for current players, any entering or returning Penn State player can transfer and play immediately at another school. There are more details on the transfer rules at

[Watch all of our videos from today’s developments.]

Referring to the victims of sexual abuse, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “No matter what we do here today, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish.”

“Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said.

After following the criminal investigation and the Freeh Report, Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, said it became obvious that the leadership failures at Penn State directly violated association bylaws of the NCAA constitution.

Rodney Erickson took over as Penn State president after Graham Spanier fired as part of this scandal. Erickson released a statement after the Monday’s findings were announced. In part, it reads:

“The tragedy of child sexual abuse that occurred at our University altered the lives of innocent children. Today, as every day, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse. gainst 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.”

[Read the full statement from Penn State president Rodney Erickson.]

“We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing,” Emmert said in a release. “As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. 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.”

We’ll be updating this post throughout the morning with the latest news.

[Catch up with all of our previous coverage of the Penn State story.]

Emmert had cautioned last week that he had not ruled out the possibility of shutting down the football program altogether – the so-called death penalty, famously used against Southern Methodist a quarter-century ago – saying he had “never seen anything as egregious” as the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

But while today the the NCAA stopped short of imposing the “death penalty,” the punishment is still crippling for a team that is trying to start over with a new coach and a new outlook.

[Have a question about today’s developments? Send it to’s Tom Dienhart.]

Monday morning’s event drew plenty of attention. Eight satellite TV trucks filled the bay directly behind the NCAA headquarters Monday morning and several more were stationed in a nearby parking lot. More than a dozen TV cameras lined the back of the room where the news conference was being held, and more than 70 media credentials were issued.

[Read this list of the worst scandals in sports.]

Monday’s news came one day after Penn State removed the Joe Paterno statue that once stood outside the Penn State football stadium. Watch all of our video clips from that event here, including reaction from BTN’s Howard Griffith and Glen Mason.

The bronze statue, weighing more than 900 pounds, was erected in 2001 in honor of Paterno’s record-setting 324th Division I coaching victory and his “contributions to the university.” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said he decided the sculpture had to come down because it “has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing.”

[Visit our Penn State Team Report page for more Associated Press stories.]

Follow senior writer Tom Dienhart on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart). Here are some tweets from various experts. You can find more over here:

Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (19 Comments)
Bill on 7/23/2012 @ 9:24am EDT Said:

(1) What will the endowment be used for? Should be to benefit victims of child and sexual abuse.
(2) Where will the football scholarships go? Should be used for victims of child and sexual abuse. staff on 7/23/2012 @ 9:36am EDT Said:

    Bill, the NCAA said this: “A $60-million fine with funds to be used for an endowment for non-university programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims.” Hope that helps.

AARON B on 7/23/2012 @ 9:33am EDT Said:


Jay Doe on 7/23/2012 @ 9:41am EDT Said:

This is absolutely crazy.
1) They just took the Freeh report as gospel, even though there are no FACTS to show any wrong doing by Paterno, nor was any member of his staff charged with any crime.
2) This incident did not involve the football program at all. The 1998 incident was investigated, so why are they throwing out those wins? To punish players that did nothing wrong. In 2001 Sandusky was not part of the PSU staff. So if a baseball coach walked in and saw something, and reported it to the PSU president, and the President did not do anything the baseball would have been severely punished??? I doubt it.
3) Like everyone else, there was a rush to do something. This happened many years ago. So why not wait and conduct an independent investigation? Once this action is taken it cannot be undone.
4) So punish the players and students who had nothing to do with this? I guess the NCAA believes two wrongs do make a right.
I believe in the fine. Curley and Spanier are charged, and there should be penalties associated with it. There just isn’t any proof that any member of the football program violated anything in the NCAA rules or bilaws.

dannawally on 7/23/2012 @ 9:51am EDT Said:

The B1G should look for a replacement for Penn State ASAP. I vote for Oklahoma.

Curt McDowell on 7/23/2012 @ 11:24am EDT Said:

The state of denial and lack of action regarding the behavior of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State is an indication of a larger societal ill, the worship of athletics (money, power, and prestige) to the detriment of individuals. Mr. Emmet stated it well, “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.” These sanctions do punish people who were not part of the aggregious and apprehensible behavior, but the only way to be sure that this does not happen again is to send a strong message to member schools: if you are not policing your own affairs, then the NCAA will do it for you. I hope the B1G dismisses PSU from the conference as well.

Dave on 7/23/2012 @ 12:31pm EDT Said:

Jay Doe, your points are all in support of your favorite team. Your biased. I trust an 8 month investigation by a former FBI director who was hired and paid for by PSU. What motivation does he have to slam PSU when they paid him? The incident DID involve the football program, as your DC was the culprit, the facilities served as the crime scene and the incidents were covered up to protect the image of the program. This is not just a “mistake” by the PSU leaders. This is a complete lack of action when faced with the crimes of a pedophile. And the players can transfer so it doesn’t hurt them. OSU players are being punished for something they didnt do. USC went through it. Why shouldn’t PSU? Because you achieve “Sucess with Honor”? Hardly. Get you head out of the sand and be happy you can watch your team and cheer when the victims get reminded of their horrors every time you chant “We Are Penn State”. How will you deal with the heckling and trash talking from opponents and why would you want to endure that? Just to see your team win? Something are more important than football.

Robert Frazier on 7/23/2012 @ 12:32pm EDT Said:

This is a cowardly punishment as is The Big Ten’s income sharing sanction. The Penn State scandal was a major failure of leadership. Anything short of shutting the football program down for at least a few years is unacceptable. We are told college sports builds character and leadership. The leaders at Penn State chose to protect a child molester for their own selfish reasons. They failed the students and the athletes. The NCAA and the Big Ten has failed all of college sports. When leaders fail there are grave consequences. If Emmert and the NCAA are afraid to lead then he should step aside.

Jared Budner on 7/23/2012 @ 12:51pm EDT Said:

Stop with your negative on the comments of former players that you invite on and then tell them have to “grasp reality”. That is reality. Your behaving like a tool for the cowardly acts and caving to the media pressure and the BigTen. As an objective bystandered with no connection to PSU the majority of these punishments affect innocent people who had nothing to do with this. Your comments are not taking into consideration of thousands of families, students and future students on the way that they feel. BTW..this story isn’t over yet. There were many people who were involved outside of PSU that are responsible for these crimes as well. Leave the players and students out of your useless opinions.

Ken Slocumb on 7/23/2012 @ 1:13pm EDT Said:

I’m a Minnesota grad living in State College. I am a follower of PSU, but not particularly a fan. I can understand the fine, the forfeiture of past games, and loss of B1G conference monies.

What I can’t understand is why the harsh penalties against the players in the form of no bowl games, and an excessive number of scholarships lost. SMU, the laughable “tattoo scandal” at tOSU, the recruiting issues at Miami, etc., all involve players. PSU’s issues did not involve a single player, yet they are paying a huge price. Just doesn’t seem right.

Chris King on 7/23/2012 @ 1:16pm EDT Said:

I’m not for penalizing the athletes (if they knew nothing about this) or students or cheerleaders, or band, or whoever at Penn State, as long as they knew nothing about what was going on. They should all get to transfer wherever they want with Penn State picking up the tab, if they were on scholarship. I look forward to the NCAA’s continuing investigation into others that were aware of the situation and did not act. Those who knew and did not act should all be in jail! The punishment to the football program is just. You cannot have a football program more important that peoples lives, which is what has happened, whether you agree or not. Penn State football should be bounced out of the Big 10. It doesn’t matter if your Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, or whoever, the NCAA has thrown down the hammer and stood up for the victims, which is exactly what should have happened.

saraek on 7/23/2012 @ 3:49pm EDT Said:

I agree that it’s unfair to punish the football players for something their coach did. However, the same could be said for OSU/USC, punishing innocent players for something the coach/a small handful of players did. You can’t disagree with one and praise the other. NCAA is very inconsistent in their punishments, but the fact remains, the football coach enabled and hid a child molester for 14 years. Shame on anyone still defending the man. Maybe the Freeh report is not ‘gospel’ but the *school* paid for the investigation. You don’t like the findings, so you try to cry that it’s not the whole truth. Maybe not, but I’m doubting you’re going to like the *whole* truth should it ever come out.

Face facts. Mr. Integrity was not the man you thought he was.

aroznowski on 7/23/2012 @ 7:49pm EDT Said:

I am a big fan of the NCAA in general. I love the way that its sports and its membership is structured. I love the values that it promotes, especially those with regard to academics and to the balance between athletics and academics. However, the one issue that I have with the NCAA has to do with the sanctions that it gives out to violating institutions. If you look at the sanctions that the NCAA gave USC, Ohio State, and Penn State, arguably the three schools that have committed the most publicized violatons since 2000, the NCAA only issued one sanction that solely punished one of the “guilty” individuals and only that individual. That was the show-cause penalty that was given to Jim Tressel. The NCAA is the only sports league in the United States that I am aware of that struggles to punish “guilty” individuals without punishing a bunch of “innocent” folks as well. Take a look at the NFL and Roger Goodell and their response to hat league’s most recent scandal. Suspensions and fines were handed out to the “guilty” individuals. Team success such as the New Orleans Saints’s Super Bowl championship was not scratched from the record books. The Saints weren’t banned from having a postseason berth to compete for. This also applies to MLB (Just look at the steroids scandal.), NBA, NHL, etc., everyone except the NCAA. BTN’s Mike DeCourcy exposed the NCAA’s biggest hypocrisy. The NCAA is all about the student-athlete and education but yet it takes scholarships, a.k.a. free educations, away from “innocent” people. The worst part about that is that those free educations simply go unused. I would like to see those free educations be used by a member of a non-revenue sport such as cross country, track and field, gymnastics, and swimming and diving or by an active student on campus that is not an athlete. I understand that Mark Emmert and the NCAA are currently in the process of reforming the organization. Hopefully the NCAA will be enlightened and see that it is in the organization’s best interest to correct some of the issues that I addressed.

aroznowski on 7/23/2012 @ 8:22pm EDT Said:

These sanctions against Penn State are definitely very harsh. There is absolutely no arguing that. I feel bad for all of the people at Penn State, in State College, or somewhere else with ties to Penn State that are being unfairly subject to these sanctions. I will give the NCAA credit for not giving Penn State a penalty such as the “death penalty” or a television ban that would have harmed the conference and its other eleven institutions. If anything, this creates more opportunities for the other eleven institutions on the field of play without taking away any of their revenue, rivalries, exposure, etc. With regard to the Big Ten’s sanctions, I don’t think that any of those are all that harsh. Most of those sanctions simply come from the conference’s procedures dealing with teams that are ineligible for postseason play. The ban on appearing in the conference championship game really only has a major, profound impact on this upcoming season anyway since the Leaders Division and the conference as a whole appears to be very wide open. However, now with Ohio State and Penn State both ineligible for postseason play in 2012, Wisconsin will be the biggest failure and underachiever in the conference’s proud, long football history if the Badgers do not play in the conference championship game in Indianapolis this December. (At the very least Big Ten “mathematics” will be a bit more accurate this football season with only ten teams eligible for postseason play!) Come 2013, it won’t really matter that much that Penn State can’t appear in the conference championship game since that will be the first year of the next Ohio State conference dynasty under Urban Meyer. At this point, the question for Penn State’s football program is “What level will the program be at in 2016?”. No one knows the answer to that question. Penn State might follow in the footsteps of USC right now and Ohio State in 2013 as legitimate conference and national championship contenders. Penn State might follow in the footsteps of SMU from the late 1980s as doormats for a decade or two. For the sake of the conference, I hope for the first instead of the second. With that said, that question will ultimately be for Bill O’Brien, his coaching staff, the players, and the Penn State community to answer.

aroznowski on 7/23/2012 @ 8:26pm EDT Said:

Having watched some of BTN’s coverage of this news, I must give the network credit for being very professional and unbiased. All of the national bias against Penn State, a conference member, has really gotten on my nerves over the last few months. Of all of the things that have happened to the Big Ten Conference throughout its long, storied history, the creation of BTN is definitely among the best.

Joe Mulheren on 7/23/2012 @ 9:23pm EDT Said:

I am from PA I root for Pitt,WVU,Penn State.What people around the Country don*T know that the Child abuse was turn over to the Police.What I don*t understand is why the police talked to Sandusky and did nothing.All they did was give him slap on the hand.The Police did not evan watch Sandusky after they found out.I blame the police and Gov Corbett,who was the AG at the time.The NCAA and the BIG TEN are heaping the gabage on the current students,football players and administration for the sins of the past.

chaz on 7/23/2012 @ 11:28pm EDT Said:

To start off I just wanted to say that I have no ties to nor am I a fan of PSU but, how did Freeh find evidence about Joe Paterno being involved in a cover up that the prosecuting investigators didn’t? If he was involved in such a cover up shouldn’t those investigators have found that evidence during their investigation and Paterno charged along with the AD and VP that were? I know he has passed and why would the state put money into charging him but those people were charged before he was fired.

Jared Budner on 7/24/2012 @ 12:02pm EDT Said:

It is still unclear to me after reviewing the sanctions and comments from others on this site again, how this brings the scales of justice to balance. As an outside objective witness, this invalidates the player’s efforts on the field and the people who attended those games taken away as if they never happened. Who really has the power to say that? If that’s what the NCAA and Big10 want why we don’t take it a step further and say that they also should give all the profits back to PSU, students, and the attendees of those games since according to the record books never happened. Most importantly, these sanctions do nothing to punish the guilty parties here and there are people involved outside of PSU that dropped the ball too. I really have to question the motives. Most importantly, is the future of the kids who chose PSU as their choice of education and sports and will always feel punished for doing so. This just creates more victims, the NCAA said the sanctions will help PSU “re-build”. Really? If the Big10 piles on more, PSU should just leave. The Big10 appears only to be concerned about getting their share of money, and reputation without trying to really help out a first time offender member in trouble.

Allen on 7/25/2012 @ 3:06pm EDT Said:

I don’t see that the students are being punished. The football players can transfer without penalty. The cheerleaders can still cheer; the band can still play. As for the student fans, if the main reason they went to college was for a winning football team, they can transfer to Pitt without loss of credits.

In reality, Penn State football will never again be a power. They’d be better off leaving the Big 10. Perhaps they could replace VCU in the Colonial Athletic Conference. While Drexel doesn’t have football, I think an instate rivalry between the Dragons and PSU in other sports would be exciting