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Penn State fined, hit with bowl ban

  |   July 23, 2012 at 10:37 AM
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INDIANAPOLIS, July 23 (UPI) -- Penn State's football program, as a result of child-abuse allegations, was hit with a $60 million fine and a four-year post-season ban Monday by the NCAA.

NCAA officials repeatedly referred to the victims of child abuse in discussing what NCAA Executive Committee Chairman Ed Ray, the president of Oregon State University, said were "historically unprecedented actions" due to "reckless and callous disregard for children."

He said sanctions were "warranted by the conspiracy of silence" at Penn State.

The fine, said by the NCAA to amount to one year's gross revenue for the Penn State football program, the post-season ban and reduction in initial scholarships for four seasons, a vacating of records from 1998-2011 and a 5-year probation period reflect some of the stiffest penalties ever handed down by the NCAA.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said his decision regarding the "very, very, very serious sanctions" were the result of the "perverse and unconscionable" actions that led to years of child sex abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"As we evaluated the situation, the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky and the efforts by many to conceal his crimes informed our actions," Emmert said Monday. "At our core, we are educators. Penn State leadership lost sight of that."

He also said: "We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing. As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act.

"These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the 'sports are king' mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators."

Emmert said Penn State signed a consent decree regarding the actions.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement that "we are entering a new chapter at Penn State and making necessary changes."

"The tragedy of child sexual abuse that occurred at our university altered the lives of innocent children. Today, as every day, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse," Erickson's statement read.

"Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA. With today's announcement and the action it requires of us, the university takes a significant step forward."

Emmert said the $60 million from the fine would be used for programs combating child sex abuse. He also said the funds shouldn't come at the expense of other Penn State sports or academics.

Erickson said the university will pay $12 a million for five years into a special endowment related to detection, preventions and treatment of child abuse.

"This total of $60 million can never reduce the pain suffered by the victims but will help provide them hope and healing," Erickson said.

The NCAA will allow Penn State football players to transfer to another NCAA member and be immediately eligible to compete.

Penn State will lose 10 initial scholarships -- a reduction from 25 to 15 a year -- for four years.

Sandusky was convicted last month of 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse. He is expected to be sentenced in September.

Prior to Sandusky's trial, several Penn State officials were dismissed after they were charged with perjury related to the abuse allegations. Penn State fired Coach Joe Paterno late last season because of reaction to the breadth and long time frame of the allegations. Paterno died Jan. 22.

After the Sandusky trial, an independent investigation commissioned by Penn State and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded Paterno and other Penn State officials were aware of allegations against Sandusky as far back as 1998. The Freeh report said the officials "failed to protect against a child predator harming children for more than a decade."

Among the actions the school has taken since the report was the removal last weekend of a statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium.

Penn State won 111 games in the period in which records will be vacated. Paterno had owned the record for coaching victories with 409. The NCAA sanctions reduce his total to 298, which is 12th most.

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