BTN.com staff, July 23, 2012
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 NCAA.org. 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."
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 NCAA.org.
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."
"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.
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.
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.
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."
Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.