The sanctions, while harsh, could have been worse. Penn State escaped what many perceive to be the NCAA’s harshest punishment: the so-called death penalty that involves shutting down the football program altogether for at least one year of play.
During a 45-minute news conference in Indianapolis, NCAA President Mark Emmert stressed repeatedly that his organization’s actions were intended to restore order in the often disjointed relationship between the values of higher education and the culture of collegiate athletics that often are based on “the values of hero worship or winning at all costs.”
Mr. Emmert said, in debating whether to use the sanction, that the organization assessed the “collateral damage on the innocent” and concluded the penalty would “bring significant, unintended harm to people who had nothing to do with this case.”
“Certainly the lesson here is one of maintaining the appropriate balance of our values. Why do we play sports in the first place? If you find yourself in a position where the athletic culture is taking precedent … bad things can occur,” he said.
Penn State will be on a five-year probationary period that will involve the appointment of an independent monitor and staff, paid for at the university’s expense, that will be tasked with monitoring progress on compliance issues and reporting back to the NCAA and university trustees.
Current or incoming players in the university’s football program can transfer without penalty to competing NCAA-affiliated universities and current players on scholarship can remain enrolled and keep their award if they maintain their academic standing.
The fine is to be directed into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims of abuse.
In a statement released shortly after the announcement, Penn State President Rodney Erickson welcomed the sanctions and a third-party monitor because he said it would ensure they would usher the university into “a new chapter.”