NCAA Hits Penn State With Unprecedented Penalties

They NCAA announced severe penalties against Penn State's football program on Monday in the wake of the sex abuse scandal involving assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA banned the team from bowl games for the next four years, stripped it of all victories between 1998 and 2011 and fined the school $60 million.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with the scandal at Penn State and one of the largest punishments in the history of college sports. Today, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, among other punishments, as a consequence of the failure by school administrators to report what they knew about child sex-abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach. In a few minutes, we'll talk with the NCAA president, Mark Emmert. First, NPR's Joel Rose has this story on his announcement.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: NCAA President Mark Emmert spelled out the sanctions in a news conference today, starting with a fine equal to one year's worth of Penn State football revenues.

MARK EMMERT: No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims. However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.

ROSE: Penn State won't be allowed to play in bowl games for four years, and the loss of many football scholarships means the team's absence from postseason play might be a good deal longer than that. Some had questioned whether the NCAA has the authority to take this kind of disciplinary action since the offense doesn't have any obvious connection to competition on the field, but NCAA executive chairman Edward Ray dismissed that concern.

EDWARD RAY: Not only does the NCAA have the authority to act in this case, we also have the responsibility to say that such egregious behavior is not only against our bylaws and constitution but also against our values system and basic human decency.

ROSE: This all comes just a few weeks after Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, some on the Penn State campus. The NCAA sanctions were especially hard on former head football coach Joe Paterno. The NCAA vacated more than 100 wins by the Penn State football team from 1998 to 2011, meaning Paterno, who died earlier this year, will no longer own the record for most wins in Division I college football history. Yesterday, Penn State officials tore down a popular statue of Paterno that stood outside the team's stadium. Penn State fan Mona Mames(ph) teared up when she saw the empty spot where the statue used to be.

MONA MAMES: He didn't deserve that. They're making it seem like he was the one that did the crime and he's being punished for what Jerry did. And it's devastating, and it's cruel.

ROSE: The Paterno family seems to agree. They called the sanctions a panicked response to public revulsion over Sandusky's crimes. The Paternos also dispute the report released recently by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that found that top Penn State officials, including Paterno, knew about allegations of child sexual abuse against Sandusky but did not report them to police. If that's true, says Penn State fan Jeff Sherden(ph), the NCAA has done the right thing.

JEFF SHERDEN: I hate for them to take away the wins and that, but he was part of the cover-up. He was one of the four that covered up this stuff and that. They probably should take it away.

ROSE: Penn State alum Anne Taranova(ph) agrees.

ANNE TARANOVA: The quick response, I think, was a good thing. I just want to see Penn State and the community get back on their feet and become what I know it can be again.

ROSE: Penn State President Rodney Erickson, for one, seems eager to move on. Erickson was ready this morning with a statement saying that the university will accept the sanctions and work on creating a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up. Joel Rose, NPR News, State College, Pennsylvania.

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