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NCAA Announces Stiff Penalties Against Penn State

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Editor's Note: USC athletic director Pat Haden has released a statement following the NCAA's sanctioning of Penn State today. It can be found here.

A decision did come. This morning, the NCAA announced severe penalties against Penn State's football program, highlighted by a $60 million fine, in the wake of the release of the Freeh Report and the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Miss anything? Here's the rundown.

  • Five years probation.
  • A $60 million fine with the money going to an endowment to benefit the welfare of children. The fine will be paid over five years at $12 million annually.
  • A four-year postseason ban, which includes appearances in bowl games, the Big Ten championship game and the four-team playoff which comes in 2014.
  • Loss of shared Big Ten bowl revenue, which will be re-directed toward children's charities.
  • A loss of 10 scholarships/year over the next four years.
  • Incoming and returning players are free to transfer without penalty (such as sitting out a season when transferring to another FBS school).
  • Wins from 1998-2011 have been vacated, which, as a result, strips Joe Paterno's title as the winningest coach in the history of college football. Gone are 111 wins and Paterno is now 12th on the all-time list, behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden and Alabama's Bear Bryant.

NCAA President Mark Emmert, who received approval from the Division I Board of Directors, to levy penalties against the university, called Penn State's case "a very distinct and very unique circumstance."

Immediately, this case draws comparisons to other penalties recently handed down by the NCAA over the last couple years -- USC, Ohio State, etc.. So this is were I'm torn.

For one, I like that Emmert and the NCAA took decisive action. It was swift. It was Goodell-like. I'm OK with that. The NCAA is a sports organization and it's often reminded us that it's not a legal body. It ain't. The Freeh Report outlined clear wrongdoings on the part of Penn State officials -- inaction if anything. So do we really need a committee to say as much, as well? We've seen committees and school presidents drive the sport in recent years to the point where people have cried for reform and more reform. This is different at least.

But secondly, there are other complications. For one, the NCAA's involvement does group this with other cases, with USC's and with Ohio State's and eventually with Miami's. Do we want that? Do we want an instance of clear, documented negligence regarding child sexual abuse to be grouped with a case of a player receiving extra benefits and a rent-free home? Emmert's involvement -- whether intended or not -- turns criminal acts on behalf of Sandusky and other Penn State officials into another football scandal comparable to Reggie Bush and Tattoo-Gate in Columbus. Everything's in the same pot now. Emmert finally did something, yes, but is he also overstepping his bounds? By issuing penalties in such a way, have we also belittled this into just another football scandal? It's that, sure, but it's so much more.

Not to mention, with the usual process for sanctioning being bypassed, is pandora's box being opened here?

There are no winners today. There were never going to be.