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Penn State Football and the NCAA Sanctions: $2.7 Million of Education and its Sense

by on September 25, 2013 6:20 AM

The NCAA on Tuesday did what it was in large part designed to do: Help give high school athletes a college education.

As a result of the NCAA’s action, the increase in the total number of football scholarship years Penn State is allowed to give rose by 65 over the next four seasons.

To get that figure, count the total number of scholarship players the team is now allowed to have per year, compared to the July 2012 edict. Then, compare that with the number of scholarships that have been added back. In all, the numbers increase by 10 in 2014-15, 15 in 2015-16, 20 in 2016-17 and 20 in 2017-18.

That’s 65 new (or, actually, rightfully returned) years of college at Penn State.

So while the number of initial (key word here) individual scholarships goes up only 25 (5 next year, then 10 and 10), the overall allowable number of scholarships to dole out each season increases by more than double that. That means underclassmen who have a fifth year of eligibility left will more than likely – and much more likely than before today – be able to attend college an additional year.

For example, only eight players in this year’s freshman football class have seen action in the first four games. The rest will most likely get a redshirt and are now much more assured that will be on scholarship in Year No. 5, all things now being (closer to) equal.

The final tally looks like this, then: High schoolers will get 65 years’ worth of free rides to what U.S. News & World Report recently ranked as the No. 37 university in the country (up nine spots from last year) – and the eighth-ranked public university in the country (up five spots from last year). Bill O’Brien’s right: Penn State is a world-class university. So it’s a great deal.

What’s that kind of education worth? About $2,706,618.

Here’s how I got that number:

With the addition of 65 total scholarships years over four academic years, I figured that half will benefit out-of-state student athletes and half will help Pennsylvania kids. Then I used Penn State’s “College Cost Calculator” -- with which I’m familiar, given that I have two freshmen at PSU right now -- to figure out what a scholarship is worth using across-the-board parameters for a student majoring in communications. I included tuition, room, meals, fees and books, plus an annual 3% hike. And I figured each of those scholarship players would attend fall, spring and (a six-week) summer semesters.

The bottom-line: A full year in Penn State for a PA kid in 2014-15 will cost about $33,000. And a full year for an out-of-stater will cost about $46,000. Players who wouldn’t have been on scholarship – including some of O’Brien’s famed run-ons – are among the biggest beneficiaries of the NCAA announcement. As it should be.

You may say, “Well, many of those kids would have gotten a scholarship elsewhere.” Possibly true, but they would have displaced another kid at a different school who displaced another kid at a different school who…

And, as O’Brien has shown, some of the current – and possibly future – Nittany Lions players who are walk-ons could end up with a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket-like scholarship.

And that's a well-deserved treat, to be sure.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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Penn State Football: Q&A with Bill O'Brien About Reduction in NCAA Sanctions
September 24, 2013 5:37 PM
by Mike Poorman
Penn State Football: Q&A with Bill O'Brien About Reduction in NCAA Sanctions
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