The NCAA didn't give the Penn State football program the "death penalty" this morning. But, to most Penn State fans, it probably feels like it.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, the findings of the Freeh Report, and the alleged cover-up that took place at the hands of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and others at the school, the NCAA just handed out a slew of harsh sanctions against the program. First, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, which is the total amount that the Penn State football program brings in every year. That money is going to be used to create an endowment that will assist Sandusky's victims and help prevent child sexual abuse in the future. Next, the NCAA banned Penn State from participating in bowl games for the next four seasons. Then, the NCAA reduced the number of scholarships that Penn State will have at its disposal over the next four years from 25 per season to 15 per season. They also announced that any current Penn state players who choose to leave the program will be able to transfer to another school this year and begin to play immediately. And, finally, the NCAA said that Penn State will have to vacate all of the wins it amassed between 1998 and 2011. That drops Joe Pa from No. 1 all-time in career college football wins to No. 8.
"The career record of former head football coach Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records," a statement from the NCAA said.
Ouch. See? It's not quite the death penalty. But, this decision by the NCAA certainly affects the past, present, and future of the Penn State program. It'll be tough to bounce back from that.