NCAA Comes down on Penn St.

A day after the Joe Paterno statue was taken down by Penn State officials, Dr. Mark Emmert – in coordination with the governing bodies of Collegiate Athletics - levied some of the heaviest sanctions against a football program since the Southern Methodist pay-for-play scandal in 1987. Penn State will have to pay a $60 Million penalty, will have a four-year ban from postseason play, and will be subject to a five-year probationary period where they will need to meet certain criteria to not face further penalties.

Joe Paterno will lose wins from a thirteen year period dating back to when the abuse first occurred. Paterno, who was formerly the winningest coach in D1 A history is now fifth in FBS History behind Bobby Bowden who moves into first with 377 wins. As Penn State’s current head coach, Coach O’Brien will be immediately affected as players are allowed to transfer without waiting the year that is usually required when student athletes switch institutions. This waiver has been previously invoked after a tragedy - but the penalities amassed by the NCAA’s ruling against Penn State are, quite literally, in a class by themselves.  Certainly the school’s 2012 incoming recruits have career decisions to make.

Penn State has also been notified by the Big 10 Conference that they will be further penalized.  So far, the Conference has banned Penn St. from the championship game, which is similar to the PAC 12’s treatment of USC over the Reggie Bush inicident.

Penn State’s football prospects are obviously at risk.  While SMU never truly recovered from the “Death Penalty” it suffered, Penn State has a long and deep football legacy in a state that has always produced quality prospects. Coach O’Biren will be dealing with the loss of scholarships for the next four years, with 10 less scholarships available per year. O’Brien, who comes from an extremely strict program under the New England Patriots, will have to sell his program much differently than other coaches, making it extremely difficult to cultivate the kind of on-field performance that has been Penn State’s priviledge.

The Nittany Lions certainly have a rough row to hoe, but O’Brien has often said that he believes he has the best athletes in the country and if he can garner a winning record(the schedule suggests this posibility) he can establish himself as one of the best coaches in the country opening him up for a NFL position if he so chooses. O’Brien said he took the job knowing full well he would be dealing with a tough start. The Nittany Lions currently have the third best incoming recruiting class in the Big 10.  Players could see their prospects at Penn State as an NFL audition, with certain attention to be paid to those who rise to leadership and success in very difficult circumstances.  Certainly the upcoming season will provide a lot of media interest and coverage.

As an aside, with Penn State’s full cooperation with the NCAA and by allowing a full independent investigation that resulted in the Freeh Report, was the the NCAA a little lenient considering what might otherwise have been?

Will you be rooting for PSU to overcome its adversity?