NCAA President Mark Emmert announced this morning that Penn State football will not suffer the death penalty, but the NCAA’s sanctions sure come close. Edward J. Ray, the Chairman of the NCAA’s Executive Committee, cited significant leadership failures over an extended period of time as justification for the extreme punishments, and he noted that the NCAA’s sanctions are intended to sound a “stark wake-up call” to universities across the nation.
The sanctions: a $60 million fine, which will create an endowment to support child sexual abuse programs across the nation. That fine is intended to be a single year’s worth of gross football revenue. The football team will also be banned from postseason play for four seasons and be limited to 65 football scholarships during that same time period, down from the NCAA cap of 85 scholarships. Finally, the team will vacate all wins from 1998-2011 and will be put on a five-year probation.
n addition to those sanctions, Penn State will be required to adopt the Freeh Report’s recommendations and sign an athletic integrity agreement with the Big Ten and NCAA. Under that agreement the school will need to institute a series of compliance measures and be supervised by an academic integrity monitor who will make quarterly reports on the university’s progress.
The core goal of the sanctions is to force a change of culture at Penn State. Emmert claimed that the death penalty was considered but ultimately dismissed because it would cause significant unintended harm to many individuals not involved with the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The team’s football players were also protected from the school’s punishment. Players can transfer and be immediately eligible to play at their new schools, and players who choose to remain at Penn State will be allowed to keep their current athletic scholarships.
The NCAA may have decided not to suspend the football team, but today’s punishment will keep it from being competitive for quite some time. The loss of scholarships will prevent Penn State from attracting top recruits, and the ability of current players to play elsewhere next season will further hurt the team’s chances of strong on-field play. It’s hard to predict exactly how damaging that will be to athletics revenue over the next four seasons, but the team can be sure that it will soon be handing over its spot as college football’s third most valuable team.