By Dana Shultz
Pennsylvania State was dealt a heavy blow on Monday for its involvement in the child sexual abuse scandal that was centered around former football coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA handed Penn State a $60 million fine, banned the football team from competing in bowl games for four years, and vacated all of the team’s wins from 1998 to 2011. As well, legendary former coach Joe Paterno’s statue on campus will soon be removed.
After news of the scandal broke late last year, a grand jury investigation led to Sandusky being indicted on 52 counts of child molestation. Sandusky had founded the charity Second Mile in 1977, which aimed to help young boys in State College, Pennsylvania. The first investigation of sexual abuse took place in 1998, but no formal charges were filed. It wasn’t until 2008 that the mother of the first victim came forward and accused Sandusky of inappropriately touching her son when he was 11 or 12 years old.
The instances of abuse took place between 1994 and 2009, and some suspect even as early as the 1970s. Perhaps even more concerning was that Sandusky performed these acts either on or near Penn State campus.
As a result of the findings, head coach Joe Paterno was fired for not reporting the events to authorities. Paterno had won 409 games in 46 seasons as Penn State’s head football coach. The NCAA’s move to forfeit the team’s wins removed 111 victories from his record, meaning he no longer stands as the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach.
Criminal investigators also found that athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State president and vice president Graham Spanier and Gary Schultz were aware of the allegations of Sandusky’s child abuse as early as 1998, but failed to disclose them.
At Monday’s press conference, NCAA president Mark Emmert said that in addition to the $60 million fine, vacated wins and bowl bans, Penn State will also initially lose 10 football scholarships and will gradually be reduced by another 10, which will drop their total available scholarships to 65 for the coming 2013-2014 school year.
Emmert issued a statement regarding the announcement, saying “The Penn State case has provoked in all of us powerful emotions and shaken our confidence in many ways. After much debate, we concluded the sanctions needed to reflect our mission of cultural chance…Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”
Penn State has also been placed on probation for five years, and the $60 million in fines will reportedly go toward a fund for the victims of Sandusky’s abuse.