The fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State resulted in the NCAA imposing a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban and a number of reduced scholarships. On Tuesday, it was announced that the University’s continued progress in the eyes of the NCAA Executive Committee will allow the school to gradually get some of those scholarships back over the next several seasons.
The decision has been endorsed by the Division I Board of Directors. It was made based on the recommendation of George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State and former U.S. Senator.
“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program,” said Mitchell. “The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.”
Next season, coach Bill O’Brien will have five more scholarships to dole out, a relatively sizable number. The move will give Penn State 75 scholarship student-athletes instead of 70 – every school not currently on probation is allowed a maximum of 85.
In 2015-16, the program will be provided with five more, increasing its total to 80, and five more again in 2016-17. In that year, the team will finally be back up to the 85 scholarships the rest of the country is allowed.
The $60 million fine will remain in place. The NCAA is not keeping the money, however. It is being used to fund child abuse programs.
“Providing relief from the scholarship restrictions will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State on athletics scholarship while also creating an incentive for the university to continue its progress under new leadership after President Erickson’s impending departure,” said Mitchell.
For now, the four-year bowl ban remains in place. However, they may consider additional mitigation of the postseason ban in the future.
Penn State will continue to work towards full compliance within the Athletics Integrity Agreement.
“The goal has always been to ensure the university reinforces clear expectations and a daily mindset within athletics that the highest priority must be placed on educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “The Executive Committee’s decision to restore the football scholarships provides additional education opportunities and is an important recognition of Penn State’s progress.”
You can read the full NCAA release here.