Penn State, local officials react to NCAA sanction modifications

mmorgan@centredaily.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Penn State President Rodney Erickson talks during an interview with the Centre Daily Times on Friday at the Nittany Lion Inn. Erickson said that the reforms that Penn State has instituted since the Jerry Sandusky scandal can serve as a model for other universities.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — CDT photo Buy Photo

  • Full statement:

    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State officials are gratified by the decision of the NCAA Executive Committee to modify the scholarship limitations previously imposed on the University under the consent decree between the University and the NCAA. This action, announced today, taken in recognition of Penn State’s significant progress under and continued compliance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement, grants immediate relief from both the initial scholarship restrictions and overall team limit restrictions previously imposed on the University’s football program. This modification will restore a total of 65 scholarship opportunities for football student athletes wanting to attend Penn State.

    (To read a statement from the NCAA, visit: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/latest+news/2013/september/executive+committee+to+gradually+restore+penn+state+scholarships.)

    Specifically, the amendment to the consent decree increases the limit on initial football scholarships from 15 to 20 for the 2014-2015 academic year, and from 15 to 25 for each of the next three seasons. In addition, the amendment increases the overall football team limit of 65 total scholarships to allow for 75 total scholarships in the 2014-2015 academic year, 80 total scholarships in the 2015-2016 academic year, and 85 total scholarships (the NCAA limit for football) for each of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years.

    “The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “This news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions.”

    Sen. Mitchell is the independent, third-party athletics integrity monitor for Penn State who published a report on Sept. 6 indicating that Penn State has substantially completed the initial implementation of all of the Freeh recommendations and all of its annual obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement (AIA). The report includes Mitchell’s impartial external review of Penn State’s efforts to implement the 119 recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh in July 2012. Under the AIA, the University was obligated to take all reasonable steps to implement the recommendations by Dec. 31, 2013. The University, the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference entered into the AIA in August 2012 as part of the consent decree imposed by the NCAA. The agreement contains a number of prescriptive measures designed to ensure that the University continues to meet or exceed all applicable NCAA and Big Ten rules and standards of integrity.

    Erickson thanked Head Coach Bill O’Brien for his leadership during this critical time and for his dedication to his players and to the University through the past two difficult seasons. He also acknowledged the work of student athletes, both on the field and in the classroom.

    “The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud,” Erickson said. “I would also like to thank the literally hundreds of University administrators, faculty, staff and students whose hard work over the past 15 months helped lay the groundwork not only for this action by the NCAA but, even more importantly, for a better Penn State.”

— Penn State and area officials say they are gratified by the NCAA decision to reduce the sanctions against the university’s football team.

“The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a news release.

The NCAA released the decision Tuesday morning, announcing it would gradually restore Penn State’s football scholarships in light of a positive report from Mitchell, the appointed athletics integrity monitor.

The decision restores the team’s scholarships to 75 in 2014-15, 80 in 2015-16 and the full 85 by 2016-17. The NCAA also might consider modifying the postseason ban, according to the NCAA statement.

Erickson also expressed gratitude to head football coach Bill O’Brien for his actions during the “critical time” for the university. He also acknowledged the work of the student-athletes over the past two seasons.

“The resiliency displayed by those young men, as well as our entire student body is something of which we are proud,” he said, also thanking the administrators, faculty, staff and students.

“Penn State officials are gratified by the decision of the NCAA Executive Committee to modify the scholarship limitations previously imposed on the (u)niversity under the consent decree between the (u)niversity and the NCAA,” said Athletics Director Dave Joyner in a news release Tuesday.

“This action, announced today, taken in recognition of Penn State’s significant progress under and continued compliance with the (a)thletics (i)ntegrity (a)greement, grants immediate relief from both the initial scholarship restrictions and overall team limit restrictions previously imposed on the university’s football program. This modification will restore a total of 65 scholarship opportunities for football student athletes wanting to attend Penn State.”

Keith Masser, chairman of the Penn State board of trustees, also released a statement Tuesday morning. It said:

“The impact of the NCAA’s action on our current and future student-athletes cannot be overstated. This will provide many additional opportunities for students who dream about getting an education at Penn State and competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.

“I want to commend President Rodney Erickson and the entire university community who worked tirelessly to institute the reforms that laid the foundation for today’s action.”

State Rep. Scott Conklin announced his pleasure in the NCAA decision.

“This is great news,” Conklin, D-Rush Township, said in a statement. “I am pleased for the student-athletes who were unjustly punished for deeds not their own. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our Penn State reform package. I will also continue to encourage the university to implement transparency polices that will benefit Penn State’s future for years to come.”

U.S. Reps Glenn Thompson and Charlie Dent, who previously sent letters to NCAA officials asking for the scholarships to be restored still say they never should have been taken away in the first place.

The Reps. call for greater accountability within the organization.

“Despite the NCAA’s decision to gradually restore these scholarships, the initial decision to take punitive action against innocent students remains completely unjustified and only serves to harm past, present and future academic achievers,” Thompson, R-Howard, said. “The resiliency of the students, alumni and community during this very challenging time has been inspirational.”

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

Centre Daily Times is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service