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NCAA gives Penn State 'stark wake-up call' with $60 million fine

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 11:15am

Saying it is "a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports," the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late Joe Paterno.

The school was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be used to set up a charity that will support programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse.

"The corrective and punitive measures the executive committee and the Division I board of directors have authorized should serve as a stark wake-up call to everyone in college sports," said Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a written statement that the university has accepted the NCAA decision and will not appeal.

"It is important to know we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes," he said. "We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative."

Paterno, who coached at Penn State for 46 years, had been the all-time leader in major college football victories for a coach, with 409 wins. The NCAA's decision strikes 111 of those from his record.

The penalties are a major blow to one of college football's traditional powers, even though the two-time national champions avoided a suspension of at least one year.

A recent university study said the football program had a $161.5 million impact on Pennsylvania in 2009. The football team made a $53.2 million profit in 2010, according to CNN Money. The school made $24 million more through general merchandise sales, CNN Money reported.

"One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge," Emmert said. "The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all cost."

The NCAA's punishments are part of the continued fallout from the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in late June of 45 of the 48 counts he faced involving 10 young victims.

The punishments follow an independent investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, whose report held four top Penn State officials, including Paterno, responsible for failing to stop the abuse.

Emmert wrote a letter to Erickson in November that included four questions he wanted the university to answer.

The NCAA felt the questions were answered by the Freeh report and therefore it could act before the university responded, Emmert said.

He said scholarship players will be allowed to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year, as is normally required, or they can stay and keep their grants, even if they don't play football. The restrictions mean the school cannot have more than 65 players on scholarship and can offer only 15 new scholarships each year for four years.

"I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," new coach Bill O'Brien said in a written statement. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes."

On Sunday, the 900-pound bronze statue of Paterno was removed from its place outside the 107,000-seat football stadium. Erickson issued a statement saying the statue is being stored in a "secure location." Another tribute to Paterno -- the university library that bears his name -- will remain as it is, Erickson said.

The statue was removed exactly six months after Paterno died of lung cancer. He died less than three months after he coached his last game. Under Paterno's tenure as head coach, the Nittany Lions went undefeated five times and finished in the top 25 national rankings 35 times.

The Freeh report found several Penn State officials concealed evidence that Sandusky had sexually abused minors. Freeh concluded that Paterno could have prevented further sexual abuse had he taken action.

Sandusky is expected to be sentenced in September. His legal team has said it will appeal the convictions.

Two former university administrators are awaiting trial for their role in the scandal, and more charges are possible as the state's attorney general investigates what Penn State may have known about Sandusky's behavior.
 

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