Penn State is now officially four wins away from becoming bowl eligible. The Nittany Lions received the good word from the NCAA on Monday. The NCAA has decided to allow Penn State to participate in the postseason and will restore the scholarship limits. The decision came following the latest review of the university according to George Mitchell, who had been assigned to monitor the university following the release of the Free Report two years ago.
“Due to Penn State University’s significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity, the NCAA Executive Committee today eliminated the school’s postseason ban, effective immediately, and will return the full complement of football scholarships in 2015-16,” a statement from the NCAA claimed.
“Penn State’s commitment to the integrity of its athletics department and its progress toward meeting the requirements of the Consent Decree are clear,” said Northern Arizona President Rita Hartung Cheng, who chaired Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. “We thank Senator Mitchell for his meticulous and exhaustive work over the past two years. Mitchell’s efforts and the dedication of Penn State officials made today’s decisions possible.”
Earlier on Monday it was reported the NCAA was withdrawing its protest over the terms of the fine money for Penn State. The NCAA wanted the $60 million in fine money (to be paid over five years) to be used for national awareness programs and efforts focusing on child abuse. That money will instead stay in-state per Pennsylvania law. There has been no change on the sanction terms regarding the fine money. That should remain in play, and at this point there may be no more cutting back on sanction terms for the football program. The only sanction term that would be left to consider overturning would be the vacated wins, but that may not be likely to happen.
Of course, at a time when the Big Ten has been slumping, this also means Penn State would be eligible to participate in the Big Ten Championship Game, if they qualify as the Big Ten East Division champs.