A month and one day after former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child sexual abuse, Penn State’s football program was punished severely Monday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Big Ten Conference for not properly reporting abuse when they were told about it.
The NCAA called the penalties brought down upon Penn State, including fines, postseason bans and loss of scholarships, “unprecedented,” and now, the question of what will happen to the future of the Penn State football program looms.
Penn State will lose an estimated $13 million in lost bowl revenue as part of the Big Ten’s sanctions.
Ten scholarships were taken away from the program for four years, Penn State’s wins from 1998-2011 were vacated and the football team was banned from playing in any postseason games for four years, including bowl games and the Big Ten championship game.
University of Iowa President and Chair of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors Sally Mason said during the Big Ten press conference Monday that this is not a “proud moment” for the conference.
But Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said on the Big Ten Network that the Big Ten did not seriously consider expelling Penn State from the conference and thinks that Penn State’s leadership will pick the school up from the sanctions.
“I do have a strong sense that many of the ingredients for success are still at Penn State and will be there in future years,” he said.
Glen Mason, the former head coach of the University of Minnesota football team, said on the Big Ten Network Monday that in order to keep the team at Penn State and in good spirits, new head coach Bill O’Brien must prove to them that he is staying in his position and that the team will continue to “hang tough” and continue to recruit.
"I think his number one challenge is he’s got to convince those players that he’s in there for the long haul," he said.
Former Purdue University head football coach from 1997-2008 Joe Tiller said that the penalties against the school are “unbelievable” and he thinks the program will suffer because of them.
“I thought the NCAA’s mission in life was one of fairness in regards to competition,” he said. “I didn’t think they were a court of law, but maybe I’ve been wrong all these years.”
But, Tiller said he thinks that many of the current players, especially upperclassmen, will remain loyal to the school.
He said some current and prospective players might choose to attend a school besides Penn State because many players see postseason play as their reward for the work during the season.
Others, he said, will remain loyal to the team and will want to still represent Penn State and work to be the first undefeated team to not go to a bowl game.
Mason said that he too thinks that many of the older players will remain at Penn State despite the penalties.
“I would assume that most of those guys would stick it out,” Mason said.
Tiller said the NCAA overstepped its limitations in issuing the sanctions and he said he doesn’t understand why the football team was punished for actions that didn’t affect anything that happened on the field.
“This is a sad day for college football, and it's a black eye for the NCAA,” Tiller said.