Penn State Football Crippled: 4-Year Bowl Ban, Massive Scholarship Reduction, Wins Vacated

Mar 29, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; NCAA president Mark Emmert speaks at a press conference in preparation for the 2012 Final Four of the division I men's basketball tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Tyler Kaufman-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, we were told that the NCAA penalties we were to receive would be so harsh and unprecedented that maybe, we'd have preferred the death penalty. Now, we know that, indeed, our punishment is to be more severe.

Just moments ago, Mark Emmert announced sanctions against Penn State's football program, and they are sure to cripple it for the foreseeable future. Acting seemingly unilaterally, and beyond the general framework of an NCAA investigation, Emmert has hit Penn State with what are certainly the most devastating penalties the NCAA has levied on a football program since SMU received a one-year death penalty 14 years ago.

  • Penn State has been hit with a 4-year bowl-and-postseason-play ban.
  • Penn State will only be able to award 15 new scholarships per season for each of the next 4 years, for a total of 65 players under scholarship.
  • Any Penn State football student-athlete who wants to transfer can do so immediately, and without having to sit out a year.
  • Any Penn State football student-athlete who leaves the football team can still retain their scholarship.
  • Penn State will vacate all wins from 1998-2011. Congrats, Bobby Bowden!
  • Penn State will serve a 5-year probation period, during which it will have to work with an NCAA education officer.
  • The NCAA is reserving the right to levy penalties on individuals associated with the case.
  • Penn State has been fined $60 million, which will go into an endowment for children's causes.
  • A more complete run-down of all of the punitive actions can be found at the NCAA site.

Penn State will not appeal the punishments, as they've already signed on to uphold the sanctions.

Mark Emmert said that the death penalty was originally in play, but that these sanctions would be less destructive than that "blanket penalty." These sanctions, he claims, are meant to help Penn State regrow its athletic department in a more constructive form, without more undue consequences. As it is, they've still dealt a huge blow to Penn State's ability to complete. Rather than ripping the band-aid off in one swift move, the NCAA has made it very difficult for Penn State to move on for the near future.

Other indications hint that the Big Ten may be next to act. In what form, we can't say. But after this, I'm not sure if anything could possibly be a surprise.

The only positive, I suppose, is that we know what's facing us--and that the death penalty didn't apply. There's no more uncertainty, no more fear, no more wondering what the future has in store for us. As the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. And while we can be sure that, at least for the next few years, Penn State football won't be the same, at least we'll still have our Nittany Lions, even if they are just a shell of their former selves.

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