Staggering NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State University

Twelve months ago, Joe Paterno was prepping for his 46th season and leading one of the most respected college football programs in the country.

What a difference a year makes.

On Sunday, Paterno’s statue outside Beaver Stadium was dismantled and today NCAA President Mark Emmert dismantled his record, vacating 111 victories from 1998 through 2011. Additional sanctions against Penn State are staggering. They include:

-A $60 million fine (to go into a special fund to aid programs for victims of child sex abuse)

-No bowl games for 4 years

-A reduction in scholarships for 4 years

-A 5-year probation


The vacating of victories means Paterno’s win total drops from a record 409 to 298. The NCAA will allow current Penn State  players and recruits to transfer to another school without penalty.

Emmert says the so-called “death penalty,” whereby the football program would have been suspended for a year or more, was considered, but the NCAA felt that would punish too many people who had nothing to do with the Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

Meanwhile, Jerry Sandusky sits in prison awaiting his formal sentencing in September for the sexual abuse of young boys.


Additional penalties from the Big Ten Conference were expected today and the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors issued a statement that included the following language:

Today, we have read the NCAA release on Penn State University.  We note in the release, and have independently confirmed, that Penn State has accepted the factual findings in the July 12, 2012 Report of the Special Investigative Counsel prepared by Louis Freeh and his firm (the Freeh Report).  Based on the findings, as accepted by Penn State, we fully support the actions taken by the NCAA.  Further, following a thorough review of the Freeh Report, the COPC has voted to impose the following additional sanctions on Penn State, effective immediately:

 1.       Censure:  The accepted findings support the conclusion that our colleagues at Penn State, individuals that we have known and with whom we have worked for many years, have egregiously failed on many levels-morally, ethically and potentially criminally.  They have failed their great university, their faculty and staff, their students and alumni, their community and state-and they have failed their fellow member institutions in the Big Ten Conference.  For these failures, committed at the highest level of the institution, we hereby condemn this conduct and officially censure Penn State.

 2.       Probation:  The Big Ten Conference will be a party to the Athletic Integrity Agreement referenced in the NCAA release, and will work closely with the NCAA and Penn State to ensure complete compliance with its provisions over the 5 year term of the Agreement.

 3.       Ineligibility:  As referenced in the NCAA release, Penn State’s football team will be ineligible for postseason bowl games.  It will also be ineligible for Big Ten Conference Championship Games for four years, a period of time that runs concurrently with the NCAA postseason bowl ban imposed this morning.

 4.       Fine:  Because Penn State will be ineligible for bowl games for the next four years, it will therefore be ineligible to receive its share of Big Ten Conference bowl revenues over those same four years.  That money, estimated to be approximately $13 million, will be donated to established charitable organizations in Big Ten communities dedicated to the protection of children.

 Penn State University is a great institution and has been a valued member of the Big Ten Conference for more than 20 years.  Since early November 2011, it has been working very hard to right a terrible wrong.   There is more to be done.  The intent of the sanctions imposed today is not to destroy a great university, but rather to seek justice and constructively assist a member institution with its efforts to reform.  From this day forward, as Penn State continues to make amends, the Big Ten conference and its member institutions will continue to engage with them in every aspect of conference membership.


Paterno Statue Removed; NCAA to Sanction Penn State University

Today is the day Penn State University learns of its fate from the NCAA. In the wake of the Sandusky scandal and the Freeh Report – which detailed a cover-up involving former school President Graham Spanier and former Head Coach Joe Paterno, among others – the school will learn this morning what sanctions it will face in the coming years. Possible penalties include the loss of scholarships, bowl games and television appearances.

NCAA President Mark Emmert is scheduled to make the announcement in Indianapolis at 9:00am (ET). Reports indicate that the so-called “death penalty,” which would suspend the entire football program, will not be imposed but the sanctions will be among the harshest ever handed down by the NCAA.

On Sunday, the centerpiece of the Paterno legacy was gone, as a crew removed the statue of the former coach outside Beaver Stadium. That decision was made by university President Rodney Erickson, who said in a statement that the statue had become a “source of division” and an “obstacle to healing.” Erickson said Joe and Sue Paterno’s names will remain on the library they helped to build.

Meanwhile, Jerry Sandusky awaits sentencing in September for his convictions on 45 counts involving the sexual abuse of young boys. Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former university Vice-President Gary Schultz are awaiting trial on charges they failed to report the abuse allegations.


Joe Paterno Memorabilia Still a Hot Item at Centre County Arts Festival

It was another rough week for Centre County, but it ended with a celebration of the arts. With music and food in the backdrop, more than 100 artisans displayed their wares at the People’s Choice Festival in Boalsburg over the weekend. The annual event near State College drew a large crowd, with many people still proudly wearing Penn State shirts, hats and other items just days after the Freeh Report cast a shadow on the legacy of former Coach Joe Paterno.

Joe Paterno memorabilia continues to be a top seller for Harrisburg-based “The Stadium Store”

Vendors displayed and sold handmade clothing, jewelry, pottery, furniture, artwork and numerous other items. Among the artist vendors at the festival were Jacob and Betsy Eisenhour of Harrisburg-based “The Stadium Store.” Items for sale in the Eisenhours’ tent included a large number of framed Paterno-themed works, which were predominantly displayed. The mother and son duo says Paterno items continue to be among their top sellers, and people who stopped by their festival tent this weekend have been “as supportive as ever” of the once-revered head coach. Betsy says she saw many emotional reactions to her son’s Paterno artwork this weekend, with some visitors crying and one woman kissing a picture of Paterno while saying “I love you, Joe.” Eisenhour also doesn’t shy away from her own continued support of Paterno and his legacy. She says she hopes that Paterno’s statue remains in its place outside Beaver Stadium. She visited the statue for the first time this past weekend.    The Jerry Sandusky scandal and the ensuing fallout at Penn State hit home for Jacob Eisenhour. In addition to being lined up to design what would have been Joe Paterno’s commemorative retirement coin, the talented artist had also been previously commissioned to produce original program cover art for The Second Mile’s retirement dinner for Jerry Sandusky. He says he met Sandusky multiple times but never suspected the horrific life the former defensive coordinator was leading in private. Eisenhour says he’s saddened that Paterno is now being “more villainized than Jerry Sandusky.”

Last week, former FBI Director Louis Freeh released the results of his 8-month independent internal investigation of Penn State University’s role in the Sandusky sex scandal. The scathing 267-page report linked Joe Paterno to attempts to cover up Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children in 2001. The former head coach died in January at age 85 before he could be interviewed by Freeh’s team. Former university President Graham Spanier was also criticized in the report, along with former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice-President Gary Schultz, both of whom are facing criminal charges for what prosecutors say was their failure to report Sandusky to authorities. Spanier has yet to be charged.

Jerry Sandusky is awaiting sentencing for his convictions on 45 counts of molesting young boys, most of whom he met through his Second Mile charity foundation. The former defensive coordinator was convicted in June and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.


Governor Tom Corbett: “I was not the driving force behind the firing of Joe Paterno”

Last month, ESPN the Magazine published a scathing article critical of Governor Tom Corbett’s role in the firing of the late Joe Paterno last November. The iconic Penn State Head Coach was dismissed by the Penn State Board of Trustees, of which Governor Corbett is an ex-officio member, in the immediate aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.

Appearing on Radio PA’s “Ask the Governor” program Thursday, Governor Corbett made his most extensive comments on the article to date, calling it “sloppy journalism” and disputing several points, including a claim by ESPN that he refused numerous requests to respond to the article. Corbett says the magazine contacted his office on the eve of his European trade mission, but that he would have been happy to speak with them upon his return.

The ESPN article portrays Corbett the driving force behind the firing of Joe Paterno, a claim he flatly denies. Corbett told Radio PA that he played a minor role in the conference call the evening the decision was made to fire Paterno, primarily reminding the trustees to “remember the children.”

Newly-elected Penn State Board of Trustees member Anthony Lubrano has been critical of the governor based on the information in the ESPN article. He told WITF radio this week that he did believe the governor played a significant role in the dismissal of Paterno. Lubrano was elected to the 32-member board on a platform largely based on alumni outrage over the handling of Joe Paterno in the days after the Sandusky scandal rocked the university.

Governor Corbett says he plans to meet with Lubrano and other board members to further discuss the issue and he believes Lubrano’s opinion will change based on those talks.



Renaming Beaver Stadium?

Pennsylvania voters believe Penn State’s home field should be renamed “Joe Paterno Stadium,” by a margin of 46 – 40, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll.  The support increases to 51% when you look only at voters over 65-years-old, and the name change has 55% support among college football fans.  

“There is lingering respect for Joe Paterno,” says pollster Tim Malloy.  “One has to wonder: If the Sandusky scandal had never happened whether support for renaming the stadium would have approached 100%.”  

After 61-years at Penn State, Joe Paterno was fired in November.  He died in January following a bout with lung cancer.  Paterno was 85.    

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,256 registered Pennsylvania voters for Friday’s poll.

A Final Goodbye…

He was more than a coach.  Former players spanning six decades were represented at “A Memorial for Joe” on Thursday afternoon.  They spoke of Joe Paterno the man, the educator, the role model.   1982 national championship quarterback Todd Blackledge called JoePa the most extraordinary person he’s ever known.  1970s receiver Jimmy Cefalo added that Paterno’s legacy won’t be defined by the 409 wins, five undefeated seasons or two national championships.  He says Paterno’s legacy will be the Grand Experiment.  “What was the idea?  That we wouldn’t just be athletes, but we would be student athletes.  And we can say now, 46-years later, that the Grand Experiment was a great success.” 

Paterno’s mid-season ouster, amid the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, did not go unnoticed during the two hour service at the Bryce Jordan Center.   “Whatever the details of that investigation are, this much is clear to me: if there’s a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response to it,” Nike Chairman Phil Knight said defiantly.  Those words brought a near 60-second standing ovation from some 12,000 fans. 

It was an emotional afternoon for many; especially the family.  Paterno’s son Jay spoke last.  “My father used to quote Tennessee Williams who said, ‘I knew no one was immortal but I thought I was the exception.’ Well dad, through this legacy and the legacy of so many you have touched, you are the exception.” 

Joe Paterno died on Sunday following a bout with lung cancer.  He was 85. 

"Today we are going to show you how much we love you" ~ Kenny Jackson


“A Memorial for Joe”

    Thousands of mourners and fans will pack into the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State today to say their final goodbyes to Joe Paterno, who passed away Sunday at age 85.

    “A Memorial for Joe” is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm. More than 10,000 free tickets for the event were snatched up in just minutes Tuesday morning when they were made available online.

Beaver stadium flags

Flags at Beaver Stadium are flying at half-staff this week.

   Paterno spent 61 years at Penn State, the last 46 as Head Coach. For most of the past half-century he embodied the Penn State football program and the university itself. While the word “icon” is often overused, it certainly applies to Joe Paterno.

    His tenure as Head Coach came to an end on November 9th when the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Days later, the coach was diagnosed with what was at that time described as a “treatable” form of lung cancer, but complications took his life this past Sunday.

    Tens of thousands of fans paid respects to the closed casket during visitations on Tuesday and Wednesday. Paterno was laid to rest on Wednesday following a private family funeral service.

Joe Paterno Funeral Today

    There will be another 4 hours of visitation today, giving fans and mourners a chance to pass by Joe Paterno’s coffin in State College. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people filed past the closed casket, paying their respects to the man who gave 61 years of his life to Penn State University. The wait in line was up to two hours at some points.

    A private family funeral will follow today’s visitation. The funeral procession will then pass through State College, taking the longtime coach to his final resting place.

    Tomorrow, thousands will pack the Bryce Jordan Center, adjacent to Beaver Stadium, for “A Memorial for Joe,” Penn State’s public tribute. Free tickets for the event were snatched up in just minutes on Tuesday. Some fans who were in line for Tuesday’s viewing said they believe the tickets were all claimed in about 40 seconds, based on their attempts to acquire them online. Sadly, within hours Tuesday there were attempts by some to sell the tickets on eBay, but that website’s policy against selling free tickets to an event resulted in those auctions being pulled from the site.

    Thursday’s public memorial service is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm. Doors open at 1:00pm. Shuttle buses will be operating between the Bryce Jordan Center and the Nittany Lion Inn, as well as the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel from 12:00pm until 2 hours after the conclusion of the memorial service. Parking will also be available in the Stadium West Commuter Parking Lot, East Deck on Bigler Road and Innovation Park.