Penn State President Hopeful University will be Rewarded for Progress with NCAA Sanctions
Penn State President Eric Barron is hopeful that former Sen. George Mitchell will recommend Penn State be rewarded for its progress under the NCAA sanctions resulting from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
A consent decree between Penn State and the NCAA allowed the NCAA to impose unprecedented sanctions against Penn State's football program. That followed an independent investigation by Louis Freeh that looked into the university's handling of the Sandusky scandal.
Barron recently discussed the issue in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In an e-mail Friday with StateCollege.com, Barron reiterated his thoughts on the issue.
"Penn State is not requesting a reduction of sanctions, but rather I am reflecting on how proud I am of Penn State's considerable progress in addressing the recommendations of the Freeh report, coupled with my personal philosophy in life to reward and recognize progress," Barron wrote.
The sanctions included a massive reduction in scholarships, a four year ban in bowl games, a $60-million dollar fine, and the vacating of 111 wins under former coach Joe Paterno.
Last year, the NCAA announced that the scholarship restrictions would be slowly lifted ahead of schedule, based on the recommendations of Mitchell, the independent Athletics Integrity Monitor for Penn State.
Mitchell is expected to release a new report in August and it's possible the NCAA could implement his recommendations.
Critics, including Paterno's family, argue Penn State was forced to agree to the sanctions. The Paterno family is now part of a lawsuit that asks for damages related to the sanctions.
At the same time, NCAA attorney Everett Johnson Jr. argued at a recent court hearing that the plaintiffs' claim the NCAA held a "gun to the head" of Penn State forcing the university to agree to the unprecedented sanctions is false.
Instead, he said Penn State simply had a choice between two undesirable options – sign the consent decree with provisions like a ban on bowl games or see the entire football program suspended.
Sandusky was ultimately convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse. He is serving a 30 to 60 year sentence in state prison. Three former Penn State administrators are awaiting trial for their alleged roles in what police say was a cover-up of the Sandusky abuse.