In late September, it was announced that the NCAA had decided to ease the scholarship restrictions slapped on the Penn State football program as part of the historic sanctions meted out in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
That, though, may not be the last time the university sees some relief.
George Mitchell, who was hired by the NCAA as an independent “integrity monitor,” met with Penn State trustees Friday and while no further reductions are imminent, he could recommend that be the case upon the release of his next report next September if the university continues its “quality response” to the Plan for Continuous Improvement.
It was Mitchell who recommended the initial reduction of a portion of the penalties. As was the case in that first round of reduction, any relief would have to be signed off on by the NCAA and Big Ten.
While Mitchell declined to discuss specific penalties that could be in line for a reduction, the one that makes the most sense would be the bowl ban.
The Nittany Lions are in the second year of a four-year ban on postseason play. If Mitchell makes the recommendation next September, the program could potentially see at least a year sliced off that sanction, which would mean the Nittany Lions would be eligible for the postseason — including the Big Ten championship game — following the 2014 regular season rather than the 2015 season.
A Mitchell recommendation to take a year off the bowl ban would likely, in essence, be rubber-stamped by both the NCAA and the school’s conference. How the former would respond to a Mitchell recommendation of cutting the ban in half is unclear.