Fans Ecstatic After NCAA Lifts Bowl Ban for Penn State Football Program
September 08, 2014 3:49 PM
by Jennifer Miller
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There was quite a roar inside Breanne Rowe's apartment Monday afternoon when she and her roommates heard the news.

"My whole apartment was freaking out and screaming, not just for football, but for the students. Everyone here I know is such a good person and we didn't deserve this," says Rowe, a junior from Annapolis, Md.

Similar reactions from Penn State football fans' could be heard and seen throughout Happy Valley after hearing the Penn State football program is eligible to compete in the post-season games starting with the current season.

Rowe and her roommates have vowed to attend Penn State's next bowl game.

The NCAA's decision Monday to end a post-season ban two years early is especially good news for Penn State seniors, who were freshman when the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal broke and the NCAA leveled unprecedented sanctions against the university's football program.

Senior Dan Giannone of Valley Forge – who attended the team's first home game of the season Saturday under the new leadership of James Franklin -- says Penn State playing in a bowl game for his senior year is amazing news.

"I've been around since it was handed down freshman year so that's definitely great to hear," says senior Dan Giannone of Valley Forge.

Senior Rebecca Morey of Brick, N.J. says until now Penn State students were punished for the Sandusky scandal.

"We've been through so much and we all feel not everybody should be punished," says Morey. "We didn't deserve it and now it's done."

John Wojton, a junior from Norristown, agrees that students paid the price.

"It hurt the students more than anyone else. We were getting punished for other people's mistakes," he says.

Wojton thinks the decision will also bring better players to the program.

Amber Falencki, a junior from Norristown, says the opportunity for bowl games adds a level of excitement for students.

"I would love for us to go farther and experience the bowl games while we are here," she says. "It's really exciting."

In a second annual report released Monday afternoon former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell recommended the NCAA immediately lift the ban on bowl games for the Penn State football program allowing Penn State's players to play in the post-season this year.

Mitchell also recommended full restoration of scholarships for the football program. Specifically, that the NCAA increase the total number of grants-in-aid to 85 for the 2015-16 season. That's the maximum number available under NCAA rules.

The NCAA announced Monday afternoon it has accepted Mitchell's recommendations.

After Sandusky's indictment for allegations of child sexual abuse and after the revelation that some of the former Penn State football coach's crimes occurred on Penn State's campus, the university hired Louis Freeh, former FBI director, to investigate the scandal. The subsequent Freeh Report found significant wrongdoing on the part of the university.

In response, the NCAA leveled unprecedented sanctions against Penn State and its football program, including a reduction in football scholarships, a four-year ban on bowl appearances, and the vacating of 111 wins under former head coach Joe Paterno. The university must also pay a $60 million fine, which the NCAA says will be used for child abuse awareness and prevention.

Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in state prison. In 2012, a jury found him guilty on 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Three former Penn State administrators are awaiting trial for allegations they tried to cover up the scandal. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

Related Stories:

NCAA Lifts Penn State Bowl Ban, Restores Scholarships Based on Mitchell Report Recommendations

Penn State Football Eligible For Big Ten Title. Franklin, Barron And O'Brien React To Sanction Reductions

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