Penn State’s Sanctions Hit Today After Paterno Statue Is Removed

Penn State Sanctions to Come After Paterno Statue Removed
“Paterno’s statue has become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university and beyond,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said about the statue of former Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno. “Were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.” Photographer: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Pennsylvania State University will be disciplined today by college sports’ governing body for its involvement in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, will detail “corrective and punitive measures” at a news conference in Indianapolis at 9 a.m. local time, the ruling body said yesterday in a statement.

The announcement came on the same day that Penn State removed a statue of former football coach Joe Paterno amid criticism that he and the school didn’t do enough to investigate allegations of abuse against Sandusky, a former defensive assistant at the university.

The NCAA may fine Penn State between $30 million and $60 million, which would go toward an endowment for children’s causes, CBSSports reported, citing unidentified people in the industry with knowledge of the situation. CBSSports said Penn State will avoid the so-called “death penalty,” with NCAA sanctions that impact the football program’s competitive ability without shutting it down.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment.

In addition to the fine, the NCAA may ban postseason play for football or all sports for multiple years and strip the school of scholarships. Penn State won’t appeal its punishment, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported on its website.

“Any punishment has likely already been agreed to by PSU,” David Ridpath, a sports administration professor at Ohio University in Athens, said in an e-mail. “I doubt the death penalty would be something they would entertain.”

Death Penalty

The association has imposed the death penalty five times and only once at football’s top level.

“I don’t know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it’s really an unprecedented problem,” Emmert said in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service’s “Tavis Smiley” program July 16. “I have never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university.”

Emmert’s comments came four days after a report by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh said school officials tried to cover up abuse by Sandusky.

Sandusky, 68, who spent 31 seasons with Paterno, was convicted last month on 45 criminal counts tied to the abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period and is awaiting sentencing. Paterno, who won a Division I-record 409 games over 46 years, did not face criminal charges in the case.

Statue Removed

Even so, the seven-foot tall statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium was removed yesterday. It came down after Freeh’s report, which was commissioned by the university, said Paterno helped cover up abuse allegations against Sandusky.

The statue became a “source of division and an obstacle to healing at Penn State,” school president Rodney Erickson said, adding that it will now be stored in a secure location.

Paterno’s family objected to the decision to remove the bronze sculpture, which depicted the former coach running onto the football field and pointing at the sky.

President Barack Obama believes Penn State’s removal of the statue was “the right decision,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement from Air Force One as Obama traveled to Colorado.

Penn State will retain the Paterno name on the university library, which was named after the coach and his wife, Sue, in 1994, Erickson said.

Paterno, who was fired four days after Sandusky was arrested Nov. 5, was prevented by the university from telling his side of the story when the allegations emerged. Paterno told Freeh he wanted to talk to him, but died of lung cancer in January at the age of 85 before an interview could be arranged.

Multiple Titles

Under Paterno’s guidance, the Penn State program became one of the country’s elite, with five undefeated seasons and Associated Press national championships in 1982 and 1986. It’s also been a financial boon for the university.

The football program had a direct business impact on the state of $70.2 million, of which $50 million benefited Centre County, according to a study commissioned by the university for the 2008-09 school year. That included $51.1 million spent on hotels, souvenirs, food, services and entertainment by out-of-state visitors, which represent about 15 percent of those attending games.

The football program had an operating profit of $43.8 million on $58.9 million of revenue in fiscal 2011, according to the school’s records. Without football, the university would have lost $29.1 million on $57.2 million of revenue.

Penn State has an endowment of $1.3 billion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said in March.

Football’s Popularity

Closing the football program would unnecessarily harm businesses in and around State College, Pennsylvania, that rely on the 100,000 fans who regularly attend games at Beaver Stadium, said Lanter and Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

“Does the NCAA have the moral authority to impose penalties that have such far-reaching consequences not only for an individual program or institution but, in this case, an entire region?” Staurowsky said in an e-mail.

Southern Methodist University’s football program was the only one to get the death penalty from the NCAA, as it was closed in 1987 after it was found that 13 players received $61,000 from a slush fund provided by a booster. The Dallas-based school was unable to field a team in 1988 and had one winning record over the next 20 years after it returned in 1989, before bowl game appearances in 2009, 2010 and last year.

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