(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — Penn State’s legendary football team was spared the death penalty on Monday, but the university was fined $60 million and the school’s legendary former coach, Joe Paterno, was stripped of 13 years of wins and the title of winningest coach in history, the NCAA announced on Monday.
“The historically unprecedented actions by the NCAA are warranted by the conspiracy of silence maintained at highest level of the university with reckless and callous disregard for children,” Ed Ray, the chair of the NCAA’s executive committee, said at the announcement Monday.
The football program will also be excluded from playing in bowl games and post-season games for four years, as well as having its scholarships reduced and having to pay a $60 million fine — the equivalent of one year’s revenue from the football program. The money will go to creating child sex abuse awareness programs around the country.
NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that the university would vacate its wins from 1998 through 2011, the timespan starting with the first allegation of abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky through his arrest in November of last year.
The announcement came just over a week after an internal investigation commissioned by the university found that Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley and university president Graham Spanier all “concealed” the child sex abuse allegations against Sandusky.
“The motivation [was] to avoid the consequences of bad publicity,” said former FBI chief Louis Freeh, who led the independent investigation. “Bad publicity has consequences for the brand of Penn State University, the reputation of coaches, the ability to do fundraising. It’s got huge implications.”
The NCAA announcement also comes on the heels of another blow to the football program’s legacy. The statue of Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium was permanently removed on Sunday by the university’s new president, Rodney Erickson.
Following Sandusky’s arrest in November 2011, the NCAA sent a letter to university officials accusing the university of what seemed to be a lack of “ethical conduct” by coaches and “institutional control” by the school president, two main tenets of the NCAA’s rule book. The organization’s code of conduct notes, however, that the most egregious punishment is reserved for offenses that give teams a significant recruiting or competitive edge over opposing teams.
Only handed down five times in the NCAA’s history, the so-called death penalty effectively dismantles the offending sports program for at least one academic year. Coaches cannot recruit or spend any time planning for the following season during the ban, and the program cannot collect any revenues.
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