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Penn State Football: NCAA To Reduce Scholarship Related Sanctions Starting In 2014

by on September 24, 2013 11:30 AM

Penn State caught a massive break Tuesday as the NCAA announced an early reinstatement of previously revoked scholarships starting as early as 2014.

According to a NCAA news release, the NCAA Executive Committee is gradually restoring football scholarships the university lost because of sanctions more than a year ago. The NCAA attributes the revision to Penn State’s continued progress toward ensuring athletics integrity, These changes were endorsed by the Division I Board of Directors and based on the recommendation of George Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State and former U.S. Senator.

Beginning next academic year (2014-15), five additional initial scholarships will be restored to the university’s football team. This amount will continue to increase.

“While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program,” said Mitchell. “The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved.”

Consistent with Mitchell’s recommendation, the Executive Committee agreed the existing postseason ban, $60 million fine to help fund child abuse programs and other sanctions outlined in the consent decree will remain in effect. However, the group may consider additional mitigation of the postseason ban in the future depending upon Penn State’s continued progress.

“Providing relief from the scholarship restrictions will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State on athletics scholarship while also creating an incentive for the university to continue its progress under new leadership after President Erickson’s impending departure,” said Mitchell.

The leadership of the Executive Committee met with the Division I Board of Directors and presidents from the Big Ten Conference prior to taking a vote on the action. During these discussions, Mitchell briefed the group on his work to date and the university’s compliance with the Athletics Integrity Agreement.  

Penn State scholarships gradually restored (Currently around 65 in 2013)

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Year Initial Total
2014-15 20 75
2015-16 25 80
2016-17 25 85
2017-18 25 85

“The decision is the result of a thoughtful and deliberative process to ensure we reached the most appropriate outcome,” said Rita Hartung Cheng, who chaired the recent Executive Committee meetings regarding Senator Mitchell’s annual report and chancellor of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. “During our discussions, we had the benefit of engaging with Senator Mitchell’s expert perspective and the views of our Big Ten colleagues.”

 Mitchell will continue to work with Penn State as it seeks to complete the Athletics Integrity Agreement.

“The goal has always been to ensure the university reinforces clear expectations and a daily mindset within athletics that the highest priority must be placed on educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “The Executive Committee’s decision to restore the football scholarships provides additional education opportunities and is an important recognition of Penn State’s progress.”

Prior to today's announcement Penn State had reduced its scholarship total to just under 65, a year earlier than the original sanctions had called for. Head coach Bill O'Brien stated on multiple occasions that he believed there was a place for a conversation regarding reductions but was not the one to spearhead that campaign.

Related Coverage:

University Responds To NCAA Sanction Reductions

Sanction Reductions Welcome News For Penn State, But Questions Remain


Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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