The NCAA hammered Penn State with hefty sanctions in the summer of 2012, but the whiting out of those sanctions could be continuing. The NCAA, state officials and Penn State are reportedly in talks to potentially overturn remaining terms of the sanctions levied against the school, including the possible restoration of 112 vacated wins, 111 of which were previously credited to Joe Paterno.
The NCAA slammed Penn State with four years of a postseason ban, issued a $60 million fine, stripped the program of 112 wins and reduced the scholarship total in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse crimes and the release of the Freeh Report detailing the university’s response and handling of Sandusky’s acts. Since dropping those sanctions on Penn State, the NCAA has restored the scholarship totals (twice) and lifted the final two years left on the postseason ban, which allowed Penn State to compete in a bowl game at the end of the 2014 college football season.
There has been an ongoing legal battle over the division of the $60 million fine assessed to Penn State, with the NCAA demanding the money be distributed nationally and state officials insisting that money stay within the Commonwealth. According to the report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, a proposal to leave the money within the state is part of the discussion with the NCAA right now. The money is to be used to raise child abuse awareness.
As reported, the intent of these discussions is to avoid continuing legal battles in the courts and allow a chance for both sides of the conversation to move on, for better or for worst. The actions of the NCAA have been heavily scrutinized and criticized, and the decisions to overturn previous portions of the Penn State sanctions have opened the door for more criticism aimed at the integrity of the NCAA, whether for not backing its initial rulings and decisions or for overstepping their bounds from the start.
If the NCAA did restore the vacated wins taken from Penn State, Paterno would climb right back to the top of the all-time coaching victories list, with 409 career wins. For some, this seems to be the most important part of the sanctions, but it is also the most trivial when compared to the rest of the sanctions and the impact they have had. Penn State still has a couple more payments to make toward the $60 million total assessed in 2012, and scrapping that would allow Penn State to distribute money elsewhere. It could also lead to being repaid for the payments already made, but that is a long way from happening at this stage.
Penn State has reportedly been compliant with the NCAA’s sanction terms form the beginning, receiving positive reviews from George Mitchell to help lead the NCAA to alter the terms of the sanctions on the fly.