NCAA Executive Committee Chairman Ed Ray told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the Penn State football program might have had a competitive advantage during the years that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused young boys.
“Penn State did a hell of a lot of recruiting between 1998 and 2012 of very top football athletes, played in bowl games, had great records during some of those years,” Ray said. “I don’t know if a lot of that would have been possible if the truth had come out over the last 14 years.”
Ray’s statement is perhaps the strongest indication of just what kind of punishment the NCAA will hand down against Penn State on Monday morning.
Ray, who is also president of Oregon State University, will appear with NCAA President Mark Emmert at a 9:00 a.m. news conference in Indianapolis to discuss the sanctions.
CNN is reporting that Penn State will face “significant and unprecedented penalties” — punishment that’s even harsher than the so-called “death penalty” that would have suspended the football program for at least one year.
“If I were Penn State or any other school and were given both options, I’d pick the death penalty,” the source told CNN. The source added that the range of sanctions “is well beyond what has been done in the past” and “far worse than closing the program for a year.”
Joe Paterno was Penn State’s head football coach for 46 seasons. He won 409 games — more than any other Division I college football coach. Starting in 1998, when Sandusky was sexually abusing young boys, Paterno’s Nittany Lions compiled a 111 – 59 record and won six bowl games.
If the NCAA decides to vacate some or all of Paterno’s wins starting with the 1998 season, Paterno’s football legacy would be wiped out.
That would make former Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden the all-time Division I leader with 389 wins.
Other possible penalties against Penn State include loss of scholarships, banning the team from participating in future bowl games and fines of as much as $60 million to go toward an endowment for children’s causes.
Two years ago, on the heels of the Reggie Bush scandal, the NCAA slammed USC with sanctions that included vacating all football victories from December 2004 through the 2005 season. That included the national championship victory over Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2005.
Given the horrendous crimes that Sandusky committed, the NCAA stands poised to send a message that’s very loud and very clear.
“If we really want to have people not just talk about the integrity of the game and about people being accountable and about shared responsibility, we have to do everything we can to make that real,” Ray said.
The NCAA’s punishment follows the release of the Freeh Report, which found four top Penn State officials, including Paterno, responsible for failing to stop Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted last month on 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 victims.
He’s in jail awaiting sentencing and will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Meantime, Penn State’s sentencing awaits.