Almost immediately after the NCAA leveled the most serious sanctions a football program had seen since the 1980s, Penn State began appealing to have them reduced.
Tuesday, the university scored a major victory when the NCAA granted Penn State a reprieve from its scholarship reductions.
PSU will gradually regain scholarships starting next academic yr, reaching full 85 a yr earlier than prior sanctions.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) September 24, 2013
The reductions of scholarships and postseason ban given as punishment stemming from the sex abuse scandal of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were the closest a program has come to receiving the death penalty, a measure not enacted since it was sentenced to SMU in 1986.
The NCAA’s original sanctions against Penn State called for a reduction from 25 to 15 scholarships for four recruiting classes, starting in 2013. Head coach Bill O’Brien worked within the confines of his limitations to ink a class rich in talent, but obviously thin on numbers. With such a low scholarship allotment available for such a considerable length of time, Penn State faced the prospect of becoming, at least in sheer participation, the equivalent of a Championship Subdivision program.
Penn State will not lose five scholarships in 2014, to an allotment of 20 rather than 15. It will then return to the NCAA standard 25 available scholarships in 2015 and 2016.
In addition, O’Brien can carry a roster of 75 players next season, instead of the FCS-level 65, 80 the season after and return to the standard 85-man lineup by 2016.
Beyond the ongoing four-year bowl ban, now in its second season, Tuesday’s decision renders the sanctions handed down in July 2012 almost moot.
Penn State released an official statement via its university website, endorsing the reduced sanctions.
“The action taken today by the NCAA, following its review of the positive report issued this month by Sen. George Mitchell, recognizes the significant efforts over the past year to make Penn State a safer, stronger institution,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “This news is certainly welcome to our University community, particularly the student athletes who may want to attend Penn State and will now have the means to do so. As we promised throughout this process, we are committed to continuing to improve all of our policies, procedures and actions.”
As friend of the site Tim Tolley points out via Twitter, the NCAA’s decision comes at a most fortuitous time for O’Brien. Penn State is on a bye week this Saturday.
So PSU can recruit differently starting now and they have a bowl ban statement to use on new targets, during the bye week.
— Tim Tolley (@TimTolley_BR) September 24, 2013