A day after the school removed a statue of Joe Paterno from outside its football stadium, Penn State was dealt a severe punishment from the NCAA over its failure to properly address allegations that a former assistant football coach had been raping and sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on Penn State property. The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, banned it from the post-season for four years, vacated its wins between 1998 and 2011 and decreased its football scholarships.
Additionally, the school will be on a five-year probation and may be subject to other penalties. The NCAA also said the school has to adopt all recommendations in the Freeh report. NCAA president Mark Emmert said, "In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable... No price the NCAA can levy with repair the damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims."
Earlier this month, Penn State board of trustees released findings from its independent investigation by former FBI director Louis Freeh of how its officials handled the allegations, which came to their attention when a former player-turned-graduate assistant allegedly witnessed Sandusky raping a young boy in a Penn State locker room shower in 2002. The assistant, Mike McQueary told head coach Joe Paterno, who then told Penn State athletic director Timothy Curley and Penn State senior vice president of finance Gary Schultz.
Curley and Schultz spoke to McQueary a week and a half later, and ultimately decided to tell Sandusky, who mentored children through a charity program, not to bring children into the football building instead of going to the authorities. After the shocking revelations last fall, Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired, and the recent investigation found that the school took measures to protect itself.
The NCAA took unprecedented measures with the decision to penalize Penn State without the due process of a Committee on Infractions hearing, bypassing a system in which it conducts its own investigations, issues a notice of allegations and then allows the university 90 days to respond before a hearing is scheduled.
Following the hearing, the Infractions Committee then usually takes a minimum of six weeks, but it can take upwards of a year to issue its findings.
But in the case of Penn State, the NCAA appeared to use the Freeh report -- commissioned by the school's board of trustees -- instead of its own investigation.
"We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing," Emmert said in the statement. "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."
The school was spared the so-called "death penalty," which would have been suspension of play for a season.
Penn State has agreed to the sanctions.
Sandusky was convicted of sexual abuse last month.